After Don Mattingly benched Andre Ethier and uncharacteristically called out his team prior to Wednesday morning's 9-2 win in Milwaukee, it seemed like the desperate last-chance moves of a manager who already knew his fate was sealed. But the axe won't come for Mattingly on the off day Thursday, per Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times:
However, a commitment that Mattingly will manage Friday doesn't mean a managerial move isn't in the works for some time in the close future. After all, Mark Saxon of ESPN LA noted that CEO Stan Kasten is traveling and won't return to Los Angeles until Friday. Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register noted that general manager Ned Colletti is on his way to Chattanooga to see top prospects Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson, Zach Lee, and others. So the delaying of Mattingly's ousting may simply be for logistical reasons.
But the sentiment is Mattingly will eventually be gone, just as Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports speculated on Sunday and reiterated on Wednesday. Even veteran beat writer Tony Jackson chimed in that Mattingly's actions sounded "suspiciously like those of a manager who knows he's about to be fired."
Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times wondered if Mattingly's scorched earth Wednesday was akin to the manager firing himself. At the very least, Wednesday indicated a shift in tone from Mattingly, long considered a players manager, and a growing disconnect with the front office:
Mattingly benched outfielder Andre Ethier on Wednesday, explaining the decision thusly: "For me, today, I’m putting out my lineup that I feel is going to be the most competitive and going to compete the hardest."
That is two "I," one "my" and one "me" in an industry that emphasizes "us" and "we." Players and the front office notice those words.
In stark contrast, this is how Mattingly explained the weekend decision to demote catcher Tim Federowicz rather than clear a roster spot by cutting either infielder Luis Cruz or catcher Ramon Hernandez: "That was the move that the organization thought was the best."
Ethier took offense to the benching and Mattingly's comments, especially since he didn't hear them from the manager himself. But the right fielder took the high road and said he expects Mattingly to continue to be his manager, per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
"Why not? We're not out of this, by far," Ethier said. "With a good run in the next month or two we'll be back there where we need to be by the All-Star break."
This weekend at Dodger Stadium should be interesting, at the very least.