By Mark Lamport-Stokes
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Los Angeles Dodgers appointed longshot Dave Roberts as their new manager on Monday, a month after the club had mutually agreed to part ways with the previous skipper, Don Mattingly.
Roberts, 43, was the starting center fielder for the Dodgers from 2002-04 but has never previously managed at any level in baseball.
Most recently, he was bench coach with the San Diego Padres and he takes charge of one of the sport's best-known franchises after dazzling the club's management in his interview.
Roberts, who is the son of a retired Marine and was born in Okinawa, Japan, becomes the first African American manager of the club after vying with Dodgers director of player development Gabe Kapler and Darin Erstad for the job.
"We could not have been more impressed with him through this process," Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said in a statement.
"His energy is infectious and he has the rare ability to make a genuine connection with every person he comes across. He has developed strong leadership qualities and accumulated a breadth of baseball experience over his career.
"We feel fully confident that he will effectively lead our team in pursuit of its ultimate goal -- bringing a world championship back to the city of Los Angeles."
Roberts becomes the eighth manager of the club in the last 17 years, and the 10th since the franchise moved to Los Angeles from Brooklyn in 1958.
"It's hard for me to put into words what it means to be named manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers," said Roberts. "This is truly the opportunity of a lifetime.
"The Dodgers are the ground-breaking franchise of Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Sandy Koufax, Maury Wills, Fernando Valenzuela and Hideo Nomo.
"When I put on this uniform as a player, I understood the special responsibility to honor those that played before me as well as the amazing bond between the Dodgers and their fans. I feel that I have now come full circle in my career."
Mattingly departed Los Angeles after the Dodgers lost 3-2 to the New York Mets in the decisive fifth game of the National League Division Series in October, the second season in a row they exited the playoffs at the first hurdle.
While the Dodgers reached the postseason three times during Mattingly's five years in charge and won three straight NL West titles with a payroll ballooning to more than $300 million, they clinched just one playoff series in that span.
(Editing by Larry Fine)