Manny gets taste of what's to come
Dodgers slugger walked twice with runners on in debut
PHOENIX -- Manny Ramirez saw his first exhibition game action of the spring on Friday and also saw what likely awaits him in the regular season.In Ramirez's first two at-bats against the Rangers as designated hitter, with Orlando Hudson on first base both times, he was walked. In his third and final at-bat of the day with nobody on base, he bounced a single to center field.
"A single. I'm Ichiro," said Ramirez. "They pay me $25 million for a base hit? That's not a good investment. We'll see."Ramirez's debut was delayed a day because of a tight left hamstring that forced his scratch from Thursday's lineup. He said he would speak with manager Joe Torre to decide what role he would play on Saturday, when the Dodgers play an "A" game on the road against Milwaukee and a "B" game against the White Sox. "No game action for him tomorrow," said Torre. "I talked to the trainers and made my decision based on that, and that he was on base three times today. He hasn't lost any of his flair from last year to this year. That was pretty impressive for Spring Training." Ramirez has had only one week of spring practice after signing his $45 million, two-year contract last week. He said he was not frustrated by the approach of Rangers pitchers with Andre Ethier batting behind him. Ethier went 1-for-3 with an RBI. "In Spring Training, I see a lot of pitches and I just try to get my timing down, that's what I like to do," Ramirez said. "I was ready for my pitch, they didn't give it to me, so I walk. No hard feelings." Asked if he thought that was a preview of how National League pitchers will deal with him, Ramirez said: "I don't know. We'll see. It's too early to think about that. I wasn't thinking about that. They can do whatever they want." Ramirez came around to score in the first inning, jogging to second base on Ethier's single, jogging to third on James Loney's single and scoring on a fielder's choice grounder. He made it as far as second base in the third inning. "My legs are heavy, so I wasn't really pushing it," he said of his base-jogging. "I guess tomorrow it will be better. On the base hit to right field [Loney's], I didn't want to push it. Maybe tomorrow I'll play the outfield and push it a little bit more. Today was a good day to DH and get used to being on the bases. I have plenty of time to get ready for the season." Ramirez said he was "kind of nervous" his first at-bat and that his timing "stinks." "I'll take my time. That's why we have Spring Training," he said. "I made a lot of mistakes and have to get it out of my system." Ramirez said he felt his leg tighten going from second to home while doing baserunning drills on Thursday morning. On Wednesday, he said his lower body was sore from the increased running drills he had been doing earlier in the week. Torre said he will continue to give Russell Martin every other game off, particularly when he felt a twinge in the foot he sprained the week before Spring Training started when he scored a run in Thursday's game. That was when Martin was removed. "It's something he's going to be able to play with, but I want to get the irritation out," said Torre. "I watched him this morning and it was no issue at all. Really, running the bases bothers him moreso than the catching part of it. Torre also said the flu bug has hit the clubhouse, claiming victims Scott Elbert, Mitch Jones and hitting coach Jeff Pentland. Elbert and Jones returned to practice on Friday. The Dodgers early workouts Friday were canceled because the Players Association was holding its annual Spring Training meeting in the clubhouse.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.