"Last spring, the bankruptcy hadn't happened and we dealt with that on the fly. To me, it could be a lot more distractions than last year, and we have to be focused."
There are roughly a dozen groups bidding to buy the same club that generated little interest in comparison to when News Corp. sold it to Frank McCourt in 2004. The groups include iconic front men like Johnson and Torre, as well as Wall Street titans like Steven Cohen and Mark Walter, Rams owner Stan Kroenke, former Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley and other assorted billionaires.
Mattingly, who took over after Torre stepped aside, said the schedule of the court-supervised auction for the club and Dodger Stadium -- second-round bids are due Feb. 23, a winner selected by April 1 and the sale closing by April 30 -- won't make it easier.
"The new owner will be announced around Opening Day," he said. "It will settle down after the beginning of camp, then it will get wild again around Opening Day and we'll have to fight that and stay focused on what we're trying to accomplish. We have to keep it in perspective and take care of what we can control.
"It all comes back to boring things, but we have to execute, make the pitches, get the pitches to hit. We wonder about what's going to happen just like the fans. But we can't control that and we still have a job to do."
Mattingly said once the club was placed into bankruptcy last summer, McCourt "had so much stuff going on, it was kind of like baseball went to the back burner. It was my job to get the guys to just play baseball."
The Dodgers were nine games below .500 the day McCourt filed for bankruptcy, and they went 12 games over .500 after. The club's second-half surge saw its young relievers stabilize the bullpen and Juan Rivera and Dee Gordon round out the offense, while Mattingly's even temperament kept the ship on course when it could have run aground.
"The biggest difference in me starting my second year is just having the first year under my belt," Mattingly said. "The guys know what to expect from me. Consistency is what our guys get from me. I don't know that I can be a lot different. I'm just that guy. Nothing ruffles me, I don't get too excited. I grind it out.
"Talking to Joe, Tony [La Russa], they all say to just be yourself. This is me and the players know it. People say I should yell and scream. The guys know when I'm ticked and I don't have to yell at them for them to know it."
Even though a bid for slugger Prince Fielder fell short, Mattingly said he's convinced the Dodgers have enough offense to pair with a deep pitching staff and contend after finishing third last year.
"Our offense is a lot like last year," he said. "We have to have guys do what they're capable of, not more and not less. Just do your thing. We need a lot of guys to have solid years. If they all live up to those standards, we'll be a tough club to beat. If we only get contributions from two or three, we'll struggle."