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Don Mattingly: Dodgers 'need a bat'

Don Mattingly knows exactly what the Los Angeles Dodgers need to get back to a championship level and the manager is not afraid to say it without hesitation.

"Offense, no question," Mattingly said Tuesday afternoon in a candid interview on the "Mason & Ireland Show" on 710 ESPN. "We need a bat. We need a bat that's solid. It's a kind of a day-in, day-out bat. We need that one-two punch. To me that's the biggest need."

Not that Mattingly is holding out a tremendous amount of hope of the Dodgers actually acquiring a front-line hitter, considering the team and owner Frank McCourt are in bankruptcy court and McCourt recently announced a divorce settlement with ex-wife Jamie McCourt for $130 million.

"Not really," Mattingly said when asked how confident he was in the team adding a big-time slugger, given the financial situation. "I can't say I'm confident that we're going to be able to do it. We've talked about different things. ... You hear Prince (Fielder), you hear Albert (Pujols). Those are nice thoughts, there's a lot of teams talking about those type of guys ... but you gotta have a Plan B, a Plan C. How do we put offense together if we can't do something like that? That's the biggest thing.

"And obviously, I don't know where we're going to be as far as what we're going to be able to do. Are we going to go backward with the budget, are we going to go forward? ... It's hard to know right now."

Mattingly said McCourt was mostly hands-off during the 2011 season. He said the two had dinner during spring training and McCourt spoke to the players then, but after that the owner was rarely seen in the clubhouse.

"He said to me then, 'I'm trying to stay away. I don't want to be a distraction,' " Mattingly said. "He wanted to let us try to do our thing so he basically backed off."

In terms of the team's second-half surge, Mattingly said it was a simple matter of the Dodgers scoring more runs that helped them finish third in the National League West at 82-79. The impetus for that push was the acquisition of Juan Rivera, who in 62 games knocked in 46 runs and gave the team a legitimate threat behind Matt Kemp, who blossomed during an MVP-caliber season with a .324 average, 39 home runs, 126 RBIs and 40 stolen bases -- all team highs.

Mattingly also was clear about his desire for the team to do all it can to sign Kemp to a contract extension. Kemp can become a free agent after the 2012 season.

"Matt proved he's the guy last year," Mattingly said. "Everything we asked him to do, he basically did it. ... I think he's one of the guys you lay your hat on. It's a tough call because if he gets to being a free agent he's going to demand huge money. But if you're going to be one of those teams, you gotta have that one-two punch and we've got one with Matt."

Mattingly, who said during the season he preached to his team not to make excuses about performance, also says he knows what the ultimate goal is.

"We can talk about being competitive and we talk about winning a championship," Mattingly said. "Really, I want to win a championship. We can be competitive, but I think the fans of L.A. want to win a championship. I'm going to be realistic and we're going to do the best we can. Whatever we're able to do, we're going to get the most out of these guys. Is that going to be enough? We're going to find out."