MLB: Dodgers start camp under new manager Mattingly

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GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) - Don Mattingly opened his first spring training camp as a major league manager, saying he wasn't concerned with how his Los Angeles Dodgers wore their hair or what music they played in the clubhouse.

Side issues aside, the rookie manager also made an announcement Wednesday: Clayton Kershaw will start on opening day.

Mattingly said he made the decision shortly after he found out he would succeed Joe Torre. Kershaw will pitch March 31 against the World Series champion San Francisco Giants.

"He has the opportunity to be special," Mattingly said.

The Dodgers officially appointed Mattingly in mid-September after Torre said he was retiring. Promoted from hitting coach, the 49-year-old former Yankees star takes over a team that went 80-82 last season.

Mattingly batted away any suggestion that now isn't the greatest time to manage the Dodgers, what with the uncertain ownership situation.

"Not at all. This is a great franchise. We've got talent. For me, I couldn't have asked for a better opportunity."

"There's been no talk about the ownership situation. There's no effect in that clubhouse," he said.

As for his players, Mattingly said Matt Kemp is coming off a "rough year" but remains the center fielder - "I don't see any reason to move him," Mattingly said.

Andre Ethier returns in right, leaving the Dodgers to settle on a left-fielder this spring.

"I'd rather have guys stay in their positions. I'd rather move one guy, not two," Mattingly said.

Jonathan Broxton will be the subject of a rehabilitation project by Mattingly's staff after the closer's decline in last season's second half.

Broxton is "in a good frame of mind. I think he's going to pitch well. I'm counting on it," Mattingly said. "Last year is last year, it's gone. All you can do is learn from it."

Regarding off-the-field items, Mattingly said he's not worried about the hairstyles of his players. This comes from a former All-Star who had to sit out a game in 1991 under Yankees manager Stump Merrill because of a disagreement over hair length.

Mattingly said he felt he'd been singled out and blind-sided just before a game with a demand to cut his hair, rather than being advised to do so the day before.

"The only thing I have with hair is if it gets in the way," he said. "If you can't see the ball, then it's a problem."

"I'm not concerned about peripherals unless it's a problem. I'm concerned that we're ready to play."

As a big leaguer, Mattingly said he kept track of all his managers' traits, both "good and bad."

Billy Martin was "just a fierce competitor," he said, yet a leader who took a relatively relaxed approach to spring training.

"But when the bell rang and those games started counting, he was a different animal. I liked that."

On the downside, Mattingly recalled he could go 0-for-4 and Martin would act as though "you'd stolen from him and he looked at you like, 'You make me sick."'

Mattingly laughed at the memory. "I tried to get hits, Billy. I'm sorry."

NOTES: The Dodgers open at home, with Kershaw set to start. "It's an honor Clayton has earned," general manager Ned Colletti said. "He's relentless in his pursuit of greatness." Other pitchers in the LA rotation figure to be Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda, Ted Lilly and Jon Garland. ... Reliever Ronald Belisario failed to arrive from Venezuela, apparently because of visa problems. Belisario showed up five weeks late last year. This year, the Dodgers made sure to work their end of the pitcher's travel arrangements early, yet he hasn't been heard from recently, Colletti said. "It's disappointing. But it's really his livelihood, from what I can determine. You'd think he'd want to pitch in the big leagues." As for Belisario's future, Colletti said, "We're not washing our hands of him. But we're certainly not holding a spot open for him." ... Kuroda is scheduled to start the first Cactus League game. ... Mattingly said he's been reading the books of John Wooden. "Looking at one coach, he's the guy I've paid attention to."


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