LOS ANGELES -- Well, Don Mattingly clearly doesn't want to do that again.
At the same time he confirmed the 2014 option in his contract vested with the Dodgers' National League Division Series win over the Atlanta Braves, Mattingly raised fresh questions that he might not return as manager next season.
"My option vested," Mattingly said at a Dodger Stadium news conference Monday. "That doesn't mean I'll be back."
Asked if he wanted to return, Mattingly said he did -- but made it clear he had reservations about his standing with management.
"I love it here," he said. "I've always said that. I like being here. But I don't want to be anywhere you're not wanted.
"I don't want to be somewhere that people don't like you or don't think you're capable of doing the job. If that's the case -- we'll just go from there."
Mattingly was referring to ownership's refusal to pick up his contract option before the 2013 season and perhaps alluding to dissatisfaction with the direction of negotiations for a new contract.
In November, Mattingly asked ownership to pick up his 2014 option and was told that was not in its plans. That created a lame-duck situation and made his job security -- or lack of it -- a frequent topic of speculation.
Just days after coming two wins from the team's first World Series since 1988, Mattingly sounded as though he might be willing to walk away from the job if not given multiyear assurances about his future.
"It's been a frustrating, tough year, honestly," said Mattingly, who led the Dodgers to winning records in each of his three seasons but reached the postseason for the first time in 2013. "You come in basically as a lame duck with the payroll and the guys that you have, it puts you in a tough spot in the clubhouse.
"We dealt with that all year long. Really what it does is it puts me in a spot where everything that I do is questioned because I'm basically trying out or auditioning to say, 'Can you manage or can you not manage?' So it's a tough spot. To me, we're three years in. We're at a point where you either know or you don't know."
Mattingly's decision-making was questioned frequently during the season. His in-game strategy, particularly his handling of the bullpen and how he dealt with the challenges presented by rookie Yasiel Puig on and off the field, were up for frequent debate and criticism.
He intimated Monday he heard that criticism, not just from fans and media but from within the organization.
"It's everywhere," he said. "When you're put in this position, the organization basically says, 'We don't know if you can manage or not.' That's the position I've been in all year long. That's not a great position to be in as a manager. That's the way it is. That's the way the organization wanted it last year. That's fine. At this point, it is what it is."
Asked if he thought ownership wanted him back as manager, Mattingly said he didn't know.
"I don't know how everybody feels," he said. "I know how I am and what I feel about the confidence (I have) in myself. Again, if people don't feel that same way, then we'll go from there."
General Manager Ned Colletti sat next to Mattingly as Mattingly made his comments. Team president Stan Kasten and anyone from the ownership group were notable in their absence.
Colletti voiced his support, saying he felt Mattingly had answered any questions about his ability to handle a team as manager.
But Colletti stopped short of making any guarantees that Mattingly would return.
"We're going to talk about the personnel over the next couple days," Colletti said. "That's what I've got for you now. We're going to talk about everything over the course of a day or two or three.
"I hired Donnie. I've been supportive of Donnie all the way through. ... I have a lot of respect for this guy. He kept it steady through a tough period of time. He kept our team together. We won. I've been supportive since the day he walked in here as hitting coach. ... I have tremendous confidence and faith in this guy."
Colletti also would not admit the Dodgers had put Mattingly in a difficult situation by making him manage the season as a lame duck.
"You know, it's a personal taste," Colletti said. "There are a lot of guys that have won on one-year contracts or at the end of contracts. There are people that have won the World Series in that situation and people that haven't.
"There's people that have had three-year contracts and didn't survive the first two weeks of them. It's all a personal approach to it and I think he did great."
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