ST. LOUIS -- When the Dodgers reached a season-high 12 games under .500 with a loss to the Padres on June 21, toiling at the bottom of the National League West, speculation regarding manager Don Mattingly job security had been abundant for weeks. And as it turns out, had Los Angeles not righted the ship by winning a Major League-best 32 of its next 39 games, the speculation may have soon become reality.
"[Team president Stan Kasten] was really honest, because I think he didn't want to do anything, but he says, 'Donny, at some point I've got to do something,'" Mattingly said of their late May conversation. "If they're not listening and it's not going good, you've got to make a change just to be making a change. And you could be doing the best job you could possibly do and it still wouldn't make a difference. At some point, I get it. I got that."
And Mattingly appreciated Kasten's candidness.
"I told him I understood. I didn't mind it because I thought it was just honest and he wasn't like trying to make me feel better or do anything else," Mattingly said. "He was just basically telling me the truth."
Now that the Mattingly's hot seat has cooled and the Dodgers have soared into first place in the NL West, the criticism of the Los Angeles skipper that plagued this season's early going has mostly subsided.
"It wasn't that much fun," Mattingly said. "You take it personal that you're team is not doing well and you understand the business, but I didn't really take it personal with any of the writers or anybody else because that's just a job that you had to do. I understand that's the way the game is. When the team doesn't play well, the manager usually gets it. And when a team is going good, [players] are playing great. It is true, honestly, the way it is."
Hanley day to day, no plans for MRI on shoulder
ST. LOUIS -- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Tuesday that shortstop Hanley Ramirez is day to day with a jammed right shoulder and that the Dodgers have no immediate plans for Ramirez to have an MRI.
"As long as he keeps going forward like this, there won't be an MRI," Mattingly said. "If he stalls and all of a sudden he's not getting any better, seems to be stuck somewhere, that's when they'll do it."
Mattingly said Ramirez's range of motion in his shoulder has progressed and the 29-year-old shortstop is feeling better each day. While injuries plagued the Dodgers during their early struggles, Mattingly is confident Ramirez won't be out long and hopes to have Matt Kemp, on the 15-day disabled list, back soon as well.
"I think you can sustain [in the short term]," Mattingly said. "If you lose Matt and Hanley together, for a month, it's hard. Then you're going to start seeing the little things happen. … You'll see less production out of the offense."
In the meantime, shortstop Dee Gordon, who was told he was returning to the big leagues before Ramirez had hurt his shoulder, could see an increased role in his second stint this season.
"I'm just here to do whatever they tell me to do," Gordon said. "I'm not seeing too much into anything, just whenever they call me, I'm ready."
Back in St. Louis, Schumaker roots against friends
ST. LOUIS -- Monday night provided a different kind of challenge for Skip Schumaker. The Dodgers outfielder had to root against one of his closest friends, Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright.
"That's one of my best friends not only in baseball, but in life," said Schumaker, who was returning to St. Louis for the first time since he was traded to the Dodgers in December, leaving the team he played for in the first eight seasons of his career.
"You move on, but you don't really forget about the great times," he said.
Accustomed to success from his time in St. Louis, Schumaker is enjoying the Dodgers' ambitious turn around, including a 15-game road win streak that the club reached Monday with a win over his former team.
Schumaker pointed to the health of several key players and the emergence of rookie sensation Yasiel Puig as the factors that ultimately shifted the Dodgers' momentum in the right direction.
"It was nice to see from such a young kid [Puig], a kid that was really hungry and so it's something that everybody needed to see and it's worked out for everybody," Schumaker said. "It was almost like he was dangling a carrot out in front of all of us saying, 'Come get it, boys.' It raised everybody else's game up. It's been fun to watch."
Schumaker received a round of applause from the Busch Stadium crowd when he entered Monday's contest as a pinch-hitter. He praised the energy of both the Dodgers and Cardinals faithful.
"The difference is St Louis really watched the game. They're not always the loudest fans, but they're the most in tune, intelligent and that really watch and know the game," Schumaker said. "L.A. wants their team to win, but they're also very loud. It's super loud there. I don't know how to explain it. I think they hold more fans, it's a bigger stadium. It's a different atmosphere. It's still loud just like it is almost like in a playoff type of deal."
Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.