MINNEAPOLIS -- During his 14-year career with the Yankees in the 1980s and '90s, Don Mattingly earned the nickname "Donnie Baseball."
Before Wednesday's series finale in Minnesota, the Dodgers manager talked about how he got that nickname, from one of the Twins' all-time greats, Kirby Puckett.
"I'm not quite sure why it stuck. ... Kirby got it started," Mattingly said. "The way he gets going and gets talking, he's talking about 'Baseball, baseball, Donnie Baseball, baseball.'"
Mattingly said Puckett coined the name at an annual banquet in Rochester, N.Y., held by former Major League umpire Ken Kaiser to benefit an orphanage. The banquet was well-attended by players, and Mattingly recalled seeing Nolan Ryan, George Brett, Mark McGwire, Jim Leyland and Don Zimmer there, among others.
Beyond getting his nickname from the Twins Hall of Famer, Mattingly said he had a good relationship with Puckett.
"You really respect the way Kirby played the game; he played hard," Mattingly said. "From that standpoint, yeah. Not necessarily going out to dinner and things like that, but [we had] a good relationship from the standpoint of camaraderie amongst players."
Lilly struggling to hold runners on base
MINNEAPOLIS -- Ted Lilly has always had trouble holding runners on, but opponents have been running even more lately on the Dodgers lefty.
Lilly has been working on keeping runners close, but it has not seemed to be effective. With Lilly on the mound Tuesday night, the Twins stole four bases, one shy of their season high.
"It seems like every time I throw over to first, they're standing there, and when I go home, they're standing on second," Lilly said. "They know something that I don't."
While his delivery to plate is slow, Lilly does have an above-average pickoff move to first base. But even that hasn't helped.
"He's got one of those moves that is deceptive, but it's like when we're picking guys, we're still not able to get that guy at second base," manager Don Mattingly said. "We've probably had three or four of those, where he's picked guys off and we're not able to get that guy at second."
- 131 wins
- 121 wins
Mattingly said Lilly needs to use a spin move more with runners at second base, and he notes that Lilly has been mixing up his pickoff moves to try to keep runners off-balance.
One thing that Mattingly does not think will help, though, is Lilly using a slide step to cut down the length of his delivery.
Whatever the issue is with Lilly holding runners close, Mattingly said it has seemed worse than usual lately. It has also coincided with a few poor starts.
When Lilly was asked if one could be affecting the other, he responded, "Usually, that's how it goes."
Injuries, uneven play impetus of Dodgers' woes
MINNEAPOLIS -- Through the first half of the season, the Dodgers have dealt with numerous injuries and struggled to a 36-45 record.
As it entered the second half the season on Wednesday, the club sat 10 1/2 games out of first place in the National League West.
So what has first-year manager Don Mattingly learned about his team so far?
"I've learned we're not in a good position at this point," Mattingly said. "We haven't really put ourselves in the position we'd like."
After an impressive, historic victory on Monday, the Dodgers had won back-to-back games while looking like a team ready to put together a winning streak.
Instead, they followed with a 6-4 loss Tuesday night, in which lefty starter Ted Lilly struggled and the offense could not put anything together significant, save for a three-run fifth inning.
Midway through the season, the Dodgers still have not won more than three consecutive games.
"Obviously, at halfway, you'd like to start seeing your club kind of form an identity of who you're going to be on a day-in, day-out basis," Mattingly said. "Really to this point, I don't think we've been showing any sign of that.
"We haven't really put a run together yet, we haven't gotten on one of those streaks where you're winning and you get that confidence going as a ballclub, where you start to feel like, 'We can do this, we can win this thing.'"
Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.