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07/22/11 9:23 PM ET

Amid trade talks, Dodgers keep focus on field

LOS ANGELES -- Don Mattingly knows his players are well aware of the time of year. It's late July and in ballparks across the country, that means talk has shifted to the Trade Deadline.

The Dodgers manager isn't asking his players to ignore the chatter. He simply wants to make sure they remain focused on playing the game that day and not letting any outside news affect their preparations.

"This time of year there gets to be a lot of names thrown around," Mattingly said of the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. "A lot of rumors. You don't know what's true and what's not true. Our biggest thing is just keep it simple."

One Dodger who has been brought up often in trade talks is Hiroki Kuroda, who started Friday's series opener against the Nationals.

Trade Include

He has been one of the Dodgers' most consistent pitchers, with a 3.13 ERA entering Friday, but he has gotten very little run support, leading to a 6-11 record. Kuroda has a full no-trade clause but would seem to be one of the team's best trade chips because his contract is up at the end of the season.

But when asked if Kuroda is the team's top bargaining piece, Mattingly said he hadn't given the idea any thought.

"I haven't really tried to evaluate any of the guys that may or may not be here [after the Deadline]," he said. "Hiro, I know he likes it here, he's been pitching good. I just look at it like it's not really my decision. I don't know what's gonna happen with that."

Until the Deadline passes, Mattingly said trades will be a "talking point" among the players in the clubhouse. It's unavoidable, and it's fine, he said -- as long as it doesn't hurt the team's preparation.

When asked if Kuroda might be immune to certain trade talk around him because of the language barrier, Mattingly laughed.

"He knows what's going on," Mattingly said. "He knows."

AJ Cassavell is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.