Dodgers happy to add Manny's big bat
Garciaparra reunited with former Red Sox teammate
LOS ANGELES -- When media members approached Nomar Garciaparra on Thursday afternoon for comment about "the trade," he pretended for a second to be unaware of the blockbuster deal that has shaken Los Angeles more than Tuesday's earthquake.
"I was surprised Griffey went to the White Sox," he said with a smile.Of course, Garciaparra knew he was being asked for his take on the blockbuster three-team deal that sent his former Boston teammate Manny Ramirez to Los Angeles. Garciaparra, who played with Ramirez for four seasons with the Red Sox, gave his stamp of approval on dealing for an All-Star caliber player whom he has a great relationship with. "We got an unbelievable hitter, an unbelievable player. I played with him so long," Garciaparra said. "For me, I'm excited to play with an old friend again. I've always had the utmost respect for him, not only ability. I got along great with him." Although Ramirez's quirky personality reportedly wore out its welcome in Boston, Garciaparra does not believe that will be the case in Los Angeles, saying he expects Ramirez to be "great" in the Dodgers clubhouse. The shortstop described Ramirez as a "quiet guy" who likes to do his work, go home and play the next day, just like himself. The excitement reverberated throughout the clubhouse, with the players seeing management believing the team can win this year by acquiring a player of Ramirez's caliber. Casey Blake, whom the Dodgers acquired from the Indians on Saturday, was happy to see management follow up his trade by dealing for another big bat. "We're bringing in one of the best hitters in the game," Blake said. "They're serious about winning the championship. It's always good to see." Ramirez figures to hit third or fourth in a Dodgers lineup that has struggled much of the season, ranking 26th in the Majors in runs. First baseman James Loney believes the addition of Ramirez along with the continued development of the young players and the possible return of Rafael Furcal in September can help Los Angeles vastly improve on its numbers through the first four months of the season.
"We definitely have the potential to be one of the best out there," Loney said.Outfielder Matt Kemp, who grew up as a fan of Ramirez, thinks he'll be able to learn from the 12-time All-Star, expressing excitement that he will be playing in the same outfield with him. He said he's not worried about what this could do to his playing time with five outfielders for three spots. "It's Manny Ramirez," Kemp said. "He is one of, if not the best, in baseball. Anything to help this team get to the playoffs and win games, I'm happy for it." Struggling outfielder Andruw Jones said Ramirez would "make a difference in the lineup," but he declined to speculate on what this means for his playing time, saying that's the decision of manager Joe Torre. Although Ramirez's bat is sure to make an impact for the Dodgers, Garciaparra cautioned his teammates against believing the former Red Sox slugger is the team's savior, saying the club cannot relax now. "For us to have that mentality would be shame on us," Garciaparra said. "Now it's up to us to go out there and continue doing the things we're supposed to do to get us there."
Michael Schwartz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.