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Don Mattingly on analytics, Dodgers lineup, bullpen & Chin-hui Tsao

Don Mattingly was in a familiar spot on Wednesday, though out of his familiar uniform, as Alanna Rizzo and J.P. Hoornstra look on in the background.
Don Mattingly was in a familiar spot on Wednesday, though out of his familiar uniform, as Alanna Rizzo and J.P. Hoornstra look on in the background.
Eric Stephen | True Blue LA

LOS ANGELES -- As Don Mattingly met with reporters in the Dodgers dugout on Wednesday, the club's winter development program was going on behind him in a room at Dodger Stadium, with general manager Farhan Zaidi giving a lecture on lineup construction.

Mattingly said he wasn't sure what kind of input or direction he would receive from Zaidi or other front office members on lineups or other game strategies, but that he is ready for anything.

"I feel like I've been pretty open to finding the best way all the time. I heard a pretty wise man, John Wooden, talk about 'I don't necessarily need things my way, I want them the best way.' That's what I'm after," Mattingly said. "I want to be a great manager. Part of that is learning and growing all the time, and finding the best way to get things done."

Mattingly said he used data from the front office to shift more in 2014, and is open to input and information from the front office.

"Analytics have been coming into the game for a long time. You're a fool if you're not trying to get better," Mattingly said. "If you're not using them as a part of your decision-making process, you're a fool."

Rollins at the top

As for the Dodgers lineup, Mattingly said he hasn't given much thought to the exact order yet, but did mention that shortstop Jimmy Rollins has mostly batted at or near the top of the order.

Mattingly recounted his phone call with Rollins after the shortstop was acquired from the Phillies in December.

"Jimmy's first thing was 'what do you need?' It was important to have that conversation. That being said, it's a little tough for a guy," Mattingly recalled. "He'll have a little bit of a line to walk because you come from another club and he hasn't been around these guys. He'll have to build relationships like anyone would.

"Jimmy gets instant credibility because of his career and because of the kind of guy he is, and eventually they'll see this guy can play and how he's going to be a big part of our club. I think he'll be a leader in our clubhouse."

Bullpen improvements

So far this offseason the Dodgers have added three players in trades to the bullpen - Chris Hatcher from the Marlins, Joel Peralta from the Rays, and Juan Nicasio from the Rockies. Mattingly said he feels confident the Dodgers will be able to find effective late-inning relief to support closer Kenley Jansen, an area the club struggled in during 2014 and in the NLDS.

"Obviously we made a lot of changes. Some of the guys I know, some of the guys I don't know. We'll have some power arms coming out of there, some different looks. There will be some competition in spring training with different guys," Mattingly said. "I have a pretty good feeling by the end of the year we'll be pretty happy with getting the ball to Kenley.

"There are a number of guys who could be that bridge. We'll see how things shake out in spring training."

Mattingly didn't mention Hatcher by name, but alluded to the right-hander again as "a late-inning guy" during an interview with Chris Russo on MLB Network.

Tsao on board

The club did confirm the signing of relief pitcher Chin-hui Tsao to a minor league contract. Tsao, who turns 34 in June, last pitched in the majors for the Dodgers in 2007. He last pitched professionally in 2009 in Taiwan, but received a lifetime ban from the Chinese Professional Baseball League for involvement in a game-fixing scandal.

The Dodgers received clearance from Major League Baseball before pursuing the right-hander, who did not receive an invitation to major league camp in spring training. Tsao will open in minor league camp at Camelback Ranch.