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Mattingly makes skipper debut

Mattingly makes skipper debut

NEW YORK -- His media obligations as the Yankees' acting manager complete for the evening, Don Mattingly didn't waste a second springing to his feet, vacating the black leather chair behind Joe Torre's desk.

"I'm more comfortable in that corner over there," Mattingly said, gesturing to the adjacent coaches' room.

Mattingly, 46, filled Torre's shoes at the helm of the Yankees on Monday, handling the managerial duties while Torre served a one-game suspension.

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Prior to the Yankees' game against the Mariners, it was announced that Torre -- who'd been thrown out in the seventh inning on Sunday when reliever Scott Proctor intentionally threw at Yuniesky Betancourt -- would not be permitted to manage.

Informed of the fact by general manager Brian Cashman, Torre interrupted a pregame interview session before heading up to Cashman's Yankee Stadium suite for the game.

"Forget everything I said," Torre told the reporters. "I'll send Mattingly over here. You can get that [stuff] out of him."

As first managerial experiences go, Mattingly -- a first-year bench coach who has said he has aspirations of one day piloting a big-league club -- had a fairly uneventful first seven innings to control.

His starting pitcher, rookie Matt DeSalvo, pitched seven innings of one-run ball to get the game to a manageable spot, and the Yankees did not use a pinch-hitter or make any defensive changes.

"It went good, I think -- until the end," Mattingly said. "Obviously, it was a pretty easy game to manage. Our guy comes out of the gate and pitches great to get us to the bullpen, where we want to be, and there wasn't a whole lot of stuff going on that you could do. It was a fairly easy game. You let the game play itself."

In the eighth, Mattingly's magic touch wore off. With Kyle Farnsworth on in relief of DeSalvo, the Yankees were victimized by a blown call at second base by umpire Gerry Davis, who was blocked from view by second baseman Robinson Cano on a stolen base by Mariners pinch-runner Willie Bloomquist.

Mattingly said that it was "hard to tell from the bench" if Bloomquist had got his hand to the base ahead of the tag, though television replays clearly showed that he did not.

"The guys out there didn't really argue," Mattingly said. "I didn't have to go out and protect anybody from getting in a [ejection] situation there. Until you see the replay, you don't realize what it was."

With the game tied heading to the ninth inning, Mattingly couldn't have had an easier decision to make, handing the ball off to a future Hall of Fame closer in Mariano Rivera.

But that move didn't work out, with Adrian Beltre homering off Rivera to lift Seattle to a 3-2 victory. As Mattingly learned on the job, there's nothing absolute in the art of managerial sciences.

"It's always shocking when Mariano gives up a run, really," Mattingly said. "We expect him to be perfect every time out. It's not always going to happen, but it's Mariano. You know he's going to do the job for you."

Mattingly had managed the Yankees once this spring for a Grapefruit League exhibition at Lakeland, Fla., when Torre remained behind to watch dual Minor League pitching performances by Mike Mussina and Andy Pettitte.

But this time was for real, and even though the outcome wasn't in the Yankees' favor, the experience could prove valuable somewhere down the line.

"I didn't expect it today," Mattingly said. "I'm glad I didn't."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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