Nobody has more fun than Manny
Big numbers in NLDS make slugger -- and Dodgers -- smile
LOS ANGELES -- After he watched Manny Ramirez strike out in his first two at-bats against Carlos Zambrano on Thursday night in Game 2 of the National League Division Series, Dodgers pitcher Derek Lowe had a question for the slugger when he got back to the dugout.
"I said, 'Manny, do you feel bad for that guy?'" Lowe recalled. "He said, 'I'm OK, Papi, we've got a long way to go.'"
A long way is exactly how far Ramirez hit the ball in his next at-bat, a towering homer to dead center in the fifth inning and he drove in another run in the eighth inning with a single.
While others express surprise at the kind of numbers Ramirez has put up in this series -- a .500 batting average to go with two homers and three RBIs, four runs scored and an OPS (on-base plus slugging) of 1.850 -- or the fact that he's done it with a big smile on his face the whole time, Lowe and Nomar Garciaparra just chuckle.
The pair played with Ramirez in Boston and grew accustomed to amazing performances at the plate and a playful attitude to go along with it.
"This is who he is," Lowe said. "I think people on the West Coast don't realize how good he is, how consistent he is. People on the West Coast maybe not seeing as much as I have are kind of taken aback by how good he is game in and game out."
Ramirez hit .396 with 17 homers and 53 RBIs in 53 games for the Dodgers after coming over from Boston just moments before the July 31 Trade Deadline.
For Garciaparra, the way Ramirez has produced reaffirmed what he said on the day the Dodgers acquired the slugger.
"I told you that before when he was coming over here what he was going to be like and I don't think I was wrong," Garciaparra said. "I was right on, and I think you guys are finding that out right now. The guy enjoys the game, plays hard, is amazing to watch. It's the stuff I've seen for the longest time."
|Dodgers left fielder Manny Ramirez is the all-time leader in Major League postseason home runs.|
Ramirez's tenure in a Red Sox uniform ended on a sour note with plenty of bad feelings, but the unhappy Ramirez that was seen in Boston earlier this year is something to which Lowe cannot relate.
"I wasn't there this year, but this is how he's always been," Lowe said of Ramirez's good nature. "He's a kid is really what he is. This is how he's been and probably how he always will be."
Ramirez's carefree demeanor has had a positive effect in the Dodgers' clubhouse, and he has certainly taken some of the pressure off his teammates.
"You probably had an impression of him when he was coming over and you are probably scratching your head," Garciaparra said to reporters. "He's an awesome guy, he's fun, he enjoys the game and he's amazing to watch. This is the stuff I've seen all along throughout all the time I played with him. He's always having fun, enjoying himself and doing what he's doing. It doesn't surprise me because I've seen it. It's the type of guy he is."
No one has hit more postseason home runs than Ramirez, who hit his 26th Thursday night. After his Game 1 performance in which he homered and once again played a big role in a Dodgers' win, Ramirez downplayed the mark and then told the media that he was changing his name to Dave Roberts, the speedy outfielder. That was in reference to the fact that he was able to beat out an infield hit.
So, have you ever had this much fun playing baseball, Manny?
"Yeah, I have fun every day," he said. "I'm just happy to be alive and blessed to be in the playoffs."
So far in this series, it's the Dodgers that seemed to be blessed with Ramirez's presence.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.