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December 11, 2019

Don Mattingly

San Diego, California

Q. Don, as year three of this kind of process, how would you kind of assess where you guys are as you try to move forward?
DON MATTINGLY: Well, I think we're at a point where we're basically out of the -- you know, we had a lot of guys we've moved in the last couple of years. Talk about building a system and kind of making sure that's strong and going forward. I think the main thing is now that we're kind of talking about it's time to start winning some games, acquiring talent, see what we've been able to do with Aguilar, Villar. Still looking to add another piece on the offensive side.

So I think it's time -- we're looking at it like it's time to start moving forward. I think a lot of our prospects -- I shouldn't say a lot of our prospects, but a lot of guys we think are going to be part of the future are moving that AAA range, been through AA, knowing that they're right there, obviously, hitting the roster this year with some guys, more guys to come.

So it's getting to that point where it's kind of time, as we talked about the build and trying to get up this hill, we're starting to feel like you're getting to the top of the hill, and it's going to be a little more gravity behind us moving forward and having an opportunity to truly start competing with teams in our division, which we know is rough with the things teams are doing and where they're going.

Obviously, we're going to continue to concentrate on ourselves, keep building, keep growing, and get ourselves to a position where we have a chance to be sustainable year in, year out, things that Derek and ownership have talked about. We're still on that plan, and once you get to that point and you talk about being sustainable, then you're there on an every-year basis. That's what we're heading towards.

Q. I know you like versatile players and getting Villar and Aguilar, what they're going to mean to -- obviously, Villar can play multiple positions and what those two additions can mean to you.
DON MATTINGLY: Well, I think just -- I love versatile players, but you want guys that can do some things. Jonathan is a guy that I'd seen in Milwaukee, a talented guy, an exciting player, fits in the line of what we're trying to do with speed. He is versatile. I think we'll try to settle in to keep him from running all around the field. We'll have other guys for that. So he's a really good piece for us.

Jesus is a guy that is a year removed from the All-Star Game, big power, big presence, has a chance to be a big presence in our lineup, and we think that's there. For me, a good athlete at first base. I know he's a big man, but I've always looked at him as being athletic, a guy that can play some first.

Q. When you look at Jonathan, he brings that speed element to the table. You got some guys, whether it's Berti or Magneuris. You mentioned last Spring Training you're trying to be a little more aggressive, and now you have a few of those guys, do you see that continuing to be a mindset even more so maybe with the speed element?
DON MATTINGLY: Absolutely. Just organizationally, you're looking for guys that are athletes that can do some things that are not necessarily just steal bags, but put pressure on teams on the bases in first and third mode, but also be able to defend.

You see guys -- you talk about guys that can run, cover more ground, and just a whole pressure element to that that we like, and that type of style is a style we'd like to get to, but obviously we want to have the players we can do it with, but that's what we've been targeting. We're starting to see guys come through the system, Monte and Jazz and some guys that can fly in and do some things on the field.

Q. James Rowson, the new bench coach, what have been your interactions with him? With his offensive mindedness, how much do you think he can help you guys as you get the staff going?
DON MATTINGLY: Have we announced our staff? I'm not sure we've announced our staff. It's okay to talk about James. He's a guy that, you're right, coming from an offensive background and a guy, an extremely sharp guy, we really look to make that position, some different mindsets toward that position of the bench coach and able to do some different things, but James is a tremendous asset for us, a guy that's worked -- obviously, the success he had in Minnesota, bringing a lot of that to us.

Q. What are your thoughts on the three batter minimum? How does that impact how you'll coach? Have you figured that out yet?
DON MATTINGLY: No. Obviously, we talked about it a lot last year. I think we knew going into this year that it was going to be there. Just some of the ins and outs of it, we've got to make sure we have a good understanding of. I think we just heard today, if a guy finishes an inning and goes back out, if he goes back out, he has to end up facing -- if it's the last guy of the inning out and goes back out, then he's going to have to get two.

But I think what it does is it gives you a little different mindset of who those guys are in your bullpen. You'd like them to be a little bit -- you're probably looking for more of a balance, maybe not a specialist one way or another. It's probably a little harder to carry. You can still do it if you have the right guys. But I think you'll be looking for a little bit different style than just the -- you always say lefty specialist, but those righties are out there too that just get righties out and have all kinds of trouble with lefties. It puts a little more pressure on those guys.

Q. Don, when you look at the roster right now, especially with a guy like Jonathan coming in, and it's a lot of different guys who played different positions, and I would imagine a lot of different permutations on the field. Is that something where you kind of feel there will be a lot of mixing and matching throughout the course of the season?
DON MATTINGLY: It's an area that I think we'll get to spring and get to see guys in different spots and then make sure we're having conversations with guys and making sure they're comfortable with what we're thinking, but I think one of the things you'll see with us is just a better, well rounded club where we can rest guys, have a little more depth than we've had maybe on the bench in the past. Not necessarily the versatility. We've had plenty of versatility, but we truly want to be able to rest maybe semi platoon-type spots, and that extra guy gives you another piece to be able to do some things.

I would think -- we're going to be better off if we're not moving a bunch of guys all around the field. If we have a couple that are capable of doing it, that always helps, but for the most part, we're going to try to put guys in a spot where they're going to be not necessarily comfortable, but they can do the most for the team and work around that, and then you deal with injuries and things like that.

So that's why you're always preparing for kind of all kinds of scenarios as you're now working on the roster, putting the team together in different pieces. You want them to fit, but you also want them to -- you always have a mind that there's going to be some injuries. There's going to be some things that happen. So you build it in a way that the versatility is there, but you'd like it to be more of a stable setting.

Q. Talk about the rotation. Clearly, you have some promising young and controllable pitchers, which some are getting -- you guys are getting phone calls on right now. But how do you kind of see your rotation, guys that have pitched in '19 and even '18 and then the guys that are on the rise?
DON MATTINGLY: I think, obviously, there's guys in our rotation that we like a lot. Sandy, start with Sandy, I talked about it last year, this guy made the biggest strides of anybody on our staff. And you start looking at Caleb, Pablo, and then you get into Jordan and Elieser, Doug or Neidert. But the guys everybody wants to talk about is obviously Sixto and Edward and Jorge. So those guys are on the horizon. We'll see where they're at.

I think the one thing that we're going to be mindful of is making sure that -- and what we've been able to do with this build and Derek's mentality and our organizational mentality is that we are going to get our -- have our guys developed. So we'll have the best chance of competing at this level and not be a back-and-forth type guy, where it's like you're giving him time, but they probably still need to continue to be developed, and we're going to try to make sure our guys are developed before putting them in position to fail.

Q. What do you hope that Isan took away from those two months in the Big Leagues and that he can take into his first full year?
DON MATTINGLY: Hopefully he got a really good view of the Big Leagues. I think Isan -- and I've talked about Isan a number of different times when we acquired him. A story for me from Isan is the first year we had him, it was rough, a lot of mistakes. Last spring was really good. We've seen a whole different guy. We've seen him as he got comfortable and got better.

Obviously, big year in AAA last year. Got called up and had probably some forms of success but not what he would have wanted. But you hope he was able to come, take those at-bats, get away to the winter and come back with an understanding of what he's dealing with.

You don't want to downplay AAA pitching, but when you're walking into deGrom and Syndergaard and Wheeler and Walker Buehler and these guys on a night-in, night-out basis, it's a different animal. Then that tells you where you're at, what you need to do.

So you hope he's coming back into Spring Training with a mindset that he knows what he's dealing with.

Q. You look at a guy like Andy who really continued to improve and take that next step on there. I know the hand was fairly routine rehab. One, is he fairly healthy and ready to go, and what are you hoping to see from Andy in that third full year?
DON MATTINGLY: Andy is fully recovered and has started maybe some light hitting. He's on a regular schedule. He'll be without any sort of setback in any area, he'll be 100 percent full go in Spring Training.

I look at Andy now as an established guy. I think he's been through two seasons basically. He's a guy that knows the strike zone, uses the whole field. His power ticked last year, which we thought it would. He was able to maintain his weight last year. The year before, he lost like 12 pounds during the season. I think we got on top of that. Make sure his routine in the weight room and his training is set up to keep his strength.

So I look at him as being an established guy for us and a guy that we can count on. So Andy just keeps moving forward, and he's going to keep getting better. His body's still coming, and he's got the right mindset. Sometimes a little too hard on himself, and that's something we continue to work on with him too is not to beat himself up day in and day out. He's got to have some acceptance of hitting the ball hard at somebody and makes an out, it's not the end of the world.

But Andy's in a good spot for us and a guy that we 100 percent say you feel like this guy is part of a championship club moving forward, and that's the way we look at it.

Q. Having like Aguilar in the lineup, what does that mean for Andy to have some other help in the middle of the lineup?
DON MATTINGLY: I think it's everyone. I think that's the one thing you look at when you're looking at lineups and you see the best teams. It's up and down, and where you've got guys up and down that can give you a chance to score runs. Obviously, our offense was not very good, towards the very bottom of the league, if not the bottom of the league, and we have to get better.

So he is an upgrade offensively for us, a guy that gives us thump, has power, a guy that has home run capabilities, but also a guy that's driven runs, he's hit for a decent average. So he's a guy that is just another presence in the lineup. So in addition, as we continue to build, you just keep putting more pieces in that lineup to give you a better chance to score runs.

Q. With Coop, he's a guy -- I know last year you kind of prefer if at first, but he can play outfield as well. You bring in Aguilar, who's mainly a third baseman. Who do you kind of see on the field this year?
DON MATTINGLY: Well, Coop is a guy who obviously showed he can hit and showed power last year, and the only, I guess, setback was his lack of ability to stay on the field. There was numerous injuries, so I think he's a tough guy to say we can put him in there every day. I think we can look at him now at this point as he's a guy who's not an every day, every day, every day type guy. I think it's more of filling in spots and getting his at-bats if somebody's hurt, lots of things.

I think the biggest problem is not knowing if we can count on him to stay on the field. So we've had to kind of move in a direction that we've planned that he's not on the field every day, but he's a big part of us moving forward but not necessarily the guy that we can pencil in for 150 games or 148 or something.

Actually, we had Jonathan play 162 I think last year. I think that's kind of a rarity, so you really do feel like you need to give guys a rest through the course of the season to get more out of them.

Q. Does Villar give you that top of the lineup guy, that leadoff guy that the last couple years you kind of struggled to find, somebody that kind of fits that profile?
DON MATTINGLY: Yeah, we haven't totally put this thing together yet, but he is a guy that profiles up top in that leadoff spot. Again, we haven't really went -- we're still trying to build this thing and don't know what we're going to be able to acquire here in the Winter Meetings as far as where the winter goes, and where we end up exactly with personnel, but Jonathan is a guy that profiles right up top.

Q. 40 steals in this age, we're not seeing a ton of that. Do you think we might start seeing more or at least you guys trying to get those guys?
DON MATTINGLY: I know we would like to be, again -- you know, like Berti and what Magneuris was able to do when those guys are on the bases, they're exciting to watch. But it's more, back to when we talked about the speed, it's pressure. Steals are nice. You know, a guy that can run and steal the bag is something that -- you know, obviously, the game has trended away from it a little bit. I don't think we necessarily want to trend away from it. We want to be able to put the game in motion, play fast. I've said it for a couple years. We just haven't been able to put the personnel together to be able to do it. We're getting more pieces that we're going to be able to do it.

Q. Even with the defenses kind of come in (indiscernible) you get guys that go from first to home, and we had games we saw end at home plate instead of getting some runs, and having that speed?
DON MATTINGLY: I think in general it's just speed. Speed plays better. Defense -- speed beats out hits. Speed puts pressure on everyone on the field on the other side. Coming up to get a ball in the ourself, you know this guy can run, you get more chances at bobbles and things. You just want pressure, and I think that's the one thing we talk about, using the speed to be able to create pressure, be the type of club that one of the first things you're saying in a meeting is like you've got to come up throwing because these guys are going, and I think that's one of the things is to create pressure.

Q. Steck, obviously, was hurt in the last year. Is he going to be fully ready for Spring Training?
DON MATTINGLY: Steck will be a full go in Spring Training. We haven't had training staff type meetings where it's a slow process into spring because of last year, but we think Steck is going to be healthy. We count on him being our pen. Yeah, I think he's a full go. There's going to be no injuries coming in. It just depends how fast they want to build him up.

Q. Do you know the name Gosuke Katoh from Japanese league you signed to Minor League team?
DON MATTINGLY: I don't know. I've been working on our roster here and talking about a lot of different scenarios. We haven't gotten through that part of camp where we're talking about guys coming into camp and guys who will be in camp with you. So we haven't gotten there yet.

Q. I know you are still organizationally figuring out which prospects you might get a good look at, but clearly we're going to see a lot of promising young kids you get through trades or draft. How do you kind of see giving looks to guys who may not be competing (indiscernible) roster but you've got your eyes on for the first time?
DON MATTINGLY: A lot of those guys -- obviously, the guys on the roster will be there. We still don't have final confirmation on exactly -- that's where development will get together and exactly which one of our Minor League guys are coming to camp. We'll have non-roster invitees and different guys coming to camp. But camp is always a good time, especially early on, because you're not playing guys that long early. That's when you get to see a lot of the young guys.

As camp moves forward, that kind of dwindles down the playing time. So early on, I think you see a lot of our guys, and it depends how things are going, how much more you see as camp goes, but in general, I think you see a lot of those guys early, and that is something that for me I look forward to is seeing the prospects that you've seen their names, you've seen them on video a little bit, watch them kind of process through -- or progress through the minors, but then to get your eyes on them on a daily basis, see how they react with the other guys, seeing how their work ethic is, see what kind of attention to detail they have, how they're handling the at-bats, the innings, whatever that is. It's always a really good learning experience for myself and our staff.

Q. Monte was one of those guys. He was in spring last year a little bit and had a little bit of injury. He's doing spring ball. Have you been getting any reports on him during winter ball, and what do you kind of hope to see out of a guy like that with a lot of potential?
DON MATTINGLY: Monte is -- I love Monte, very interesting. He's in Puerto Rico right now. He's swinging the bat well. He's doing well. Obviously, the at-bats we wanted for him came from not getting a full season last year. But Monte is an exciting guy.

What I love about Monte is he's always trying to make a play. He's either trying to steal a bag or first to third, throw somebody out, trying to square somebody up, hit a ball hard. It's just like he's always trying to do something. I love his energy and just the confidence that he brings and looking forward to him and to getting a really good look at Monte.

Q. Justin Bour, he's a player in Japan next year. What do you think about his strong points and uniqueness?
DON MATTINGLY: I think the strongest part about J.B. is he can hit. I always thought he's a really good hitter. Big power. His base running would not be his strong point at this point (laughter). Again, I think J.B. is a guy who falls into that category. Analytics came in with the defense and the base running, he's getting dinged for some things.

To me, I think Japan could be a great place for him to kind of re-establish himself and see what happens.

Q. How about his character? Different character, different baseball?
DON MATTINGLY: I think he'll be great. He's a fun-loving guy. He's a different dude. I think he'll be great in that culture.

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