Oct. 13 Don Mattingly pregame interview

Q. Don, Justin Turner has had a really good series at the plate. How key is he tonight in terms of getting you back to LA for Game 5?

DON MATTINGLY: Well, obviously part of it. He's been a key all year. He's a guy that hits both sides. He's one of our main guys, kind of 2 through 5 there that you look at him to drive in runs, get on base, gives you good at-bats, kind of pretty much against everybody. So obviously a big part of what we try to do.

Q. The last like week or so you have kind of described Puig as being rusty. Have you seen anything whether it's in his at-bats or batting practice that makes you think he could be a difference offensively?

DON MATTINGLY: You know, we haven't seen a whole lot. Obviously we haven't seen a bunch of at-bats. We knew with him on the roster if they had a lefty going, that he'd be playing. He'd be kind of taking Van Slyke's spot in the order or not necessary in the order, but in the defense playing a lefty. So we think he gives us the best chance tonight.

Q. What kind of expectations do you have for Kershaw tonight as far as innings, pitches, how deep he can go?

DON MATTINGLY: Just a start. Regular start, but obviously with short rest. Then we're going to watch him. But like a regular start.

Q. What impressed you about Matz when he pitched at your place?

DON MATTINGLY: Just his stuff. We didn't do a whole lot with him. And then it was -- you know, his stuff was good. We'd seen him on tape and seen him pitch one time on TV before that. And obviously he's left-handed. He's got a number of pitches. He's got the fastball, the change out there. Looks like he throws a little slider, cutter and then he'll sweep the breaking ball. So he's kind of got that lefty angle.

He's tall, he's live. You gotta keep him in the strike zone. But that angle he has getting in on the righty, you gotta pick your spot how far you can go with him in there to be able to keep him on the plate.

Q. You saw how loud it was here last night. You know what the Mets franchise has been through to get back into the playoffs. Wondering from your personal memories when the Yankees got back in '95, where that ranked in your list of memories, what you remember that crowd being like after that long wait?

DON MATTINGLY: You know I'm old, so I don't remember that far back. It was loud last night, for sure. It was a good environment. It really was. All things considered, I thought it was a really good environment to play in. It's what you would think about playoffs. You can't hardly hear yourself in the dugout. We had the problem early with the phone. We were trying to use walkie-talkie in there, and you couldn't hear that thing at all. So it was definitely loud.

Q. This is the fourth time this year that Kershaw has faced the Mets. Is that something that he has to make adjustments to keep himself fresh? And is there anything that he does differently on three days' rest the first time this year and first time since last year that he's done that?

DON MATTINGLY: I think any difference is we're starting from the last start. You know, anything to kind of speed up his recovery kind of coming back. So he knew really kind of going into Game 1 that this was a possibility, and we talked about it even before we announced him. So I think the biggest adjustments were his training and the way he moved towards this game.

And from there it's just kind of how he feels. You know, you're hoping his stuff is good. It's been pretty good on short rest. We've only had it a couple of times, but his stuff has been good on those days.

Q. How do you assess Puig's year as a whole?

DON MATTINGLY: It's just been up and down. You know, it's kind of been -- I don't know the word to use, but he's never really got any kind of true rhythm, I don't think, through the course of this year. He got started, actually swung the bat good early, got hurt, came back, took him a while. I think he kind of reinjured that leg before he even got back. Played a while, had another one. It's just been a bumpy kind of stop-and-start type year. And I think it's just hard to find any kind of rhythm when you play like that.

Guys that you see have the really good years they put together -- usually play consistently, and they get their at-bats on a daily basis. There are not really any kind of major injuries in there, and they're able to put 145, 150 games on the board and then they get that true rhythm.

Q. When a guy has a year like that, can a contribution in a game like this to help extend the season erase the frustrations of a regular season, do you think?

DON MATTINGLY: I don't know how frustrated he is. We're not frustrated with him other than he's had injuries.

Q. (No microphone).

DON MATTINGLY: Oh, I think definitely, I think the postseason, any kind of -- if it's been a rough year, doing something late has a chance to kind of -- nobody remembers what happened in April or May. You get big hits and you get hot down the stretch, everybody kind of forgets the other part of it.

Q. You mentioned last night that Yasmani Grandal pinched something. I assume you mean the shoulder again. What's his status tonight? What availability possibly going forward?

DON MATTINGLY: Yeah, available. Obviously we can't -- if he wasn't going to be available tonight, we would have made a move. But we feel like he's going to be able to play. I mean, we had A.J. scheduled tonight in this game with a lefty. But we think he'll be able to play. We know he'll be able to play tonight, and then moving forward we have to make a decision.

Q. Just a little more on Puig. You said he didn't get any rhythm throughout the year because of the hamstring injuries. Did you see any signs that he could get back to kind of being that electric player he was for you in the second half of '13, beginning in '14 at times?

DON MATTINGLY: Sure. I mean I think anytime you see a guy that's -- he's capable, you know. So it's just in there, and again, I think injuries have a lot to do with that, that you can't really get a rhythm if you don't play on a daily basis. And actually being a player that went through quite a few at the end of my career, it's just hard to put a real good season together when you're in and you're out, you're in and you're out.

Q. Donnie, you had to do a lot of flipping around with the batting order, but the one thing that's static is Adrian and Turner in the middle of it. You just basically build the lineup around that. What's the thinking on that? And how does that help anchor the batting order as you're moving it around every day?

DON MATTINGLY: You're absolutely right, and you can kind of throw Howie in that, too, because with Howie, JT and Gonzo, it's kind of always building around those guys. So you're trying to build around who protects Adrian or who's giving you -- you know, you want to be able to protect him. So who's going to give you the best at-bats behind him, how can we get guys on base in front of him. You're trying to feed those guys. So that's how we're trying to build it.

But those guys have been obviously the building blocks for us of being the main core guys that you'd look at as kind of your main -- obviously you need everyone, but the main kind of focus of your lineup.

Q. It seemed like in a lot of spots in your lineup you went with platoons, right-handed; not shortstop. How come?

DON MATTINGLY: With short it's not necessarily -- it hasn't really been a platoon. You know, Corey has come in and played really well, for the most part. He's gotten the lion's share of the at-bats at the end of the year. Part of it was because Jimmy got hurt there and couldn't really get back into the rhythm, but the other part is Corey kind of came in and just played really, really well.

So we look at Corey hits both sides. He sees spin pretty good. Again, just tonight we feel like he's the right guy.

Q. I know you didn't really address it last night, but how do you think Utley handled the whole atmosphere and everything?

DON MATTINGLY: Fine. He played at Philly (laughter). I mean, you play in Philly, I mean this is the same. Right? I think he was fine.

You know, I mean, we can say it however you want. I know people are still probably up in arms about the whole thing, but I know Chase, he felt horrible about the kid getting hurt. And that's one of the things, I think guys that play the game hard, they feel like they play the game right, you know, they really don't want to -- they want to play like that, but they're not looking to hurt anybody. But that being said, I think he handled it fine.

I mean as far as the atmosphere, I didn't think he kind of made it worse or anything else. He just took it and kept moving.

Q. Being an elimination game there will be no hesitation to use him tonight, if the situation calls for it?

DON MATTINGLY: No. There was none last night either. He would have played last night if it would have came up at the right spot for us. It was just that kind of game, it didn't get to him.

Q. Crawford looked like he might have been limping a little bit late in the game yesterday. Is he okay?

DON MATTINGLY: I think okay. Nothing on the report with him.

Q. What was up with the phone to the review booth?

DON MATTINGLY: It just wasn't working. It was as simple as that. I mean, it was one of those things that as soon as -- we kind of check it right before every game. So it's like you don't go check it during BP or nothing. It's right before the game, you just jump on and make sure everybody can hear, and we weren't getting any signal. At that point you're kind of -- you're stuck, because you can't communicate at all. So if there's any kind of review, you don't know, because I mean that information comes actually really quick from the replay. So when you hold it up, you're holding the game up, you don't want to be like, you know.

So we just didn't have a phone.