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Don Mattingly: ‘If You Don’t Protect Your Guys, You Lose Respect’

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Don Mattingly (Credit: Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Don Mattingly (Credit: Leon Halip/Getty Images)

After watching teammates Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez get beaned in back-to-back games, Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw took matters into his own hands this past Sunday, plunking Matt Holliday with a first-pitch fast ball to the thigh.

Given that Kershaw is the best pitcher in baseball, however, should he intentionally hit someone? After all, you’d hate to see Kershaw get injured in a brawl or in his next at-bat.

“Well, I can’t make the assumption that anybody was hit on purpose; obviously he’s trying to pitch inside there,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said tongue-in-cheek on The John Feinstein Show. “But in the game, I think there’s things you have to do, (and) you do (them) – because you’re a teammate. Over the course of the season, if you don’t protect your own guys, you lose respect in the clubhouse. There’s things you got to do no matter who you are. And if you don’t do those things, you’re going to lose respect amongst your teammates, and that’s where that line kind of falls.”

“I think that situation was a clean situation. Everything was probably done the way it was supposed to be done.”

Of course, it helps that the Dodgers held on to win, 4-3.

But what about the American League? Is it a harder to retaliate since pitchers don’t have to bat?

“If a pitcher’s going to be a guy that’s a renegade, (there are going to be consequences),” Mattingly said. “If you’re ever hitting (somebody) just because you’re getting hit and your team’s giving up some runs, to me, you’re always out of line. Usually, (issues) occur when a team’s trying to pitch inside. I think that’s really what happened to us in St. Louis. They’re trying to pitch Hanley inside. They’re trying to pitch Puig inside. That’s what you have to do. But then if you can’t pitch in there without continuing to hit guys, then there has to be something to protect them.”

“I think the American League is kind of the same,” Mattingly continued. “If you get a renegade pitcher and he’s just going to start firing at guys, then (you have to) retaliate in the right way against one of their better players and then let their own team take care of it. Guys don’t want to get hit. If you’ve got a guy out there firing at people, then all of a sudden your own guys start getting hit and they’ll take care of it in their own clubhouse.”

As it stands, the Dodgers – 56-46 entering play July 23 – have one of the best records in baseball and trail San Francisco (56-44) by one game in the NL West.

Los Angeles was hoping for a solid start by Josh Beckett against the Pirates on Tuesday, but Beckett, who was coming off the disabled list (hip), surrendered four runs on six hits – including three home runs – in just 3.2 innings.

Los Angeles lost, 12-7.

Still, Mattingly was encouraged.

“You never now what you’re going to get when a guy comes off the DL,” he said. “I think the positive was that (Beckett) was healthy. He wasn’t hurting or anything else when he was pitching. Obviously the negative is he wasn’t able to go very deep and didn’t look very sharp.”

Beckett, 34, went 6-5 with a 2.26 ERA before the All-Star break.

“I think we expect him to kind of return to what he’s been able to do over the course of the first half of the season,” Mattingly said. “Getting him back is definitely a positive for us.”

 

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