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Don Mattingly: Comments about more than Andre Ethier

The Dodgers manager on Friday stood by his critical comments from earlier in the week, and returned his right fielder to the starting lineup on Friday night against the Cardinals.

Harry How

Manager Don Mattingly may be sitting on the managerial hot seat, but on Friday night at Dodger Stadium he didn't sound like someone worried about losing his job. Mattingly addressed reporters prior to the series opener against the Cardinals on Friday, and didn't back down from his comments from Wednesday about his team's play.

"It's respect to the teammates, to the organization, to the fans. It's all about respect. It's about the way we play. It's not public criticism as far as criticizing players. It's criticizing the way we are playing," Mattingly said. "Guys in that room, they know who they are. Guys that play the game right don't have any problem with anything I'm saying. I can't come close to backing off about anything I said the other day. I feel exactly that way."

Andre Ethier sat on Wednesday amid Mattingly's calls for better play and better effort, so it's only natural that he took the comments to heart.

"The not competing part bothers me. Having that said about you, that's all people hear," Ethier said. "If that's the way they feel, and things need adjusting, it should be addressed."

Ethier, who is back in the lineup Friday night, sought out teammates trying to see if he was giving off any vibes that could be perceived the wrong way.

"It's motivating myself, and motivating everyone just to make this thing right. It's about addressing it, and being open to criticism of all aspects of how you play," he said.

"I didn't mean to single out Andre. I just put a lineup out. ... It's not just about Andre. It's about us as a team and the way we're supposed to play baseball," Mattingly said. "Andre and I talked the other day, before the game. We probably talked 20 minutes. Andre knows exactly where I'm coming from."

Ethier, who spoke with reporters before Mattingly spoke with reporters, said he hadn't talked to Mattingly about the incident, which contradicted Mattingly's account, but it is likely Ethier meant he hadn't spoke to Mattingly about Wednesday since then. At the very least, Ethier said he would like to talk to Mattingly about it at some point.

"It's good for what we're all trying to achieve here and what this team is going for," Ethier said. "We know what our common goal is, and that's to figure out how to make this right and put us in a position to all pull in the same direction. That's everyone's goal."

When told that Ethier said they hadn't spoken since Wednesday's benching, Mattingly joked, "We talked for sure. I'm getting old, but we definitely talked."

Mattingly said despite reports to the contrary, his comments were not directed at the front office and that he has the support of general manager Ned Colletti and president Stan Kasten.

"As long as Stan understands and Ned understands, and they took it the same way I meant it, then I'm good," Mattingly said. "I know Ned and I are on the same page on our beliefs about the way you have to go about playing the game."

Both Mattingly and Ethier said that at six games out of first place, there was plenty of time for the Dodgers to make a playoff run.

"When things get tough we have to pull together to make sure we have each others' backs," Ethier said. "It's something we've done well all year with all the adversity we've faced."

"It's all about how we play. It's the only thing that I really stress over, how our club is playing and how we go about our business. It's what I'm all about," Mattingly said. "I'm looking forward to getting out of this, and how good it feels when we're on the other side of this and turning this thing around, playing how we're supposed to be playing, and getting to where we want to go."

Game info

Time: 7:10 p.m.

TV: Prime Ticket

MLB Gameday