"I like the situation I'm in," Mattingly said. "The opportunity is here, and you move forward in life. I love the challenge and what we're trying to do here. I think that's what you're always looking for in life, something challenging and exciting. This is a young club that we think is talented. We've got a ways to go, but we feel like we can compete, and play well."
Mattingly managed the Dodgers to three straight National League West titles, from 2013-15, but agreed to "part ways" with the organization after Los Angeles was eliminated by the Mets in the NL Division Series last October.
Mattingly noted he enjoyed working with Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi.
In Los Angeles, setting the lineup was a group effort. Mattingly has more of a say about his lineup in Miami.
"I felt I made decisions all the time last year," Mattingly said. "Just because there was a collaboration with the lineup, and things like that. I enjoyed Andrew and Farhan, those guys, a lot. I feel like I learned a lot. They think a little differently, but that's nothing wrong.
"I enjoyed last year, as far that relationship with Andrew and Farhan. I thought it was really good."
Dodgers utility standout Kiké Hernandez, a former Marlin, played for Mattingly and is looking forward to seeing his former skipper.
"Donnie's a great baseball person," Hernandez said. "He basically just let me be myself, which was great. He gave me a great opportunity to play, and I'll always be thankful for that. It's going to be good to see him again."
The Marlins, riding a string of six straight losing seasons, are in the process of upgrading their use of analytics.
"We're trying to get up to speed in a sense with our information," Mattingly said. "That's one of the areas we're trying to grow in the organization, is to make sure our information is keeping up with the industry."
Because the Dodgers fell short of their World Series goals, Mattingly acknowledged things got a bit tense.
"I think by the end of the season, you're always a little stressed," he said.
In Miami, Mattingly is striving to create a winning culture.
"This is such a challenge, what we're doing in Miami," Mattingly said. "It's a good, young talented group. Having to develop this and building this, and hopefully making Miami where players want to come.
"Right now, L.A. is one of those places you want to go. If you're a player, you want to be on that team. We want to build Miami to the point where we're competitive every year, and we have a shot to get into the playoffs. We've got a cool ballpark, a great city. You want to build that. That's what's challenging for myself at this moment."