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After amicable split, Don Mattingly & Dodgers have moved on

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LOS ANGELES -- The Marlins have never swept the Dodgers in a three- or four-game series in Los Angeles, and they have never swept them in a four-game series anywhere, so the Dodgers will need to win Thursday night's finale to avoid that fate.

No matter what happens on Thursday, this has been a successful homecoming for Miami manager Don Mattingly, who seems at peace with his departure from the Dodgers, and perhaps more importantly has moved on.

"I look at this as such a challenge with what we're doing in Miami, with a good young talented group," Mattingly said Monday. "Having to develop this and build this and looking forward to making Miami into a place the players want to come. Right now, LA is one of those places you want to go.

"You want to build Miami to a point where we're competitive every years, getting in the playoffs or with a shot of the playoffs every year."

The Marlins aren't quite there yet, but there are plenty of young pieces in place. Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and Dee Gordon pace the offense and are 26, 24 and 28, respectively, and 23-year-old ace Jose Fernandez takes the mound in Thursday's series finale against the Dodgers.

Mattingly said the opportunity to teach was a big reason he signed with the Marlins, though I'm sure the five-year contract didn't hurt.

"I'm enjoying that part of it. That was the allure of Miami," Mattingly said. "The allure was the teaching, it was the youth, and being a part of changing the culture of the whole thing."

He's under the purview of impetuous Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, who had six managers in the last six seasons. But you have to remember, Mattingly began his managerial career when Frank McCourt brought the Dodgers into bankruptcy, and as a player his owner was George Steinbrenner at his most destructively intrusive.

If there is anything Mattingly is built to deal with, it's a crazy owner.

Mattingly gets painted quite often as a Luddite at worst, or at least someone tired of what is thought to be constant meddling by the front office with the Dodgers, though he insists that wasn't the case.

"The stuff with the lineups, and Andrew [Friedman], I think that got overplayed a little bit. I really do," Mattingly said. "There was collaboration back and forth, and it's just part of this job. We still talk about lineups, and different things.

"We're trying to get up to speed in our information [with the Marlins]. It's one of the areas we're trying to grow as an organization. The analytics and different types of information you receive. Certain charts they would give."

Maybe Mattingly wanted more recognition, or maybe he realized he just wasn't the right fit here. But whatever the reason, his departure in November was about as amicable a split as you'll ever find in baseball, with very few hard feelings on either side.

"It was just the right time," Mattingly said. "That's what I felt last winter."

The Dodgers are quite happy with Dave Roberts as their new manager, and Mattingly seems happy with Miami. Maybe that's how things are supposed to work out.