Manny's rehab beyond Dodgers' forecast
Where and when suspended slugger starts uncertain
ANAHEIM -- The Dodgers are hopeful Manny Ramirez begins his rehab assignment Tuesday in Albuquerque, but they aren't confident enough that he will to announce it, and they lack the authority to demand it.
Manager Joe Torre on Friday wouldn't provide any details about Ramirez's upcoming schedule after issuing preliminary updates the previous two days that were overwhelmed by shifting media speculation.
"There's really nothing we know for sure until something happens," said Torre. "It will have to come from somebody higher than me."
Club officials, however, said nothing has been finalized.
Torre has determined, however, that Ramirez needs to see Minor League game action before returning on July 3 from a 50-game suspension for violating the MLB drug policy, which allows for a 10-game transitional Minor League assignment -- but only with the player's consent.
The circus atmosphere that undoubtedly will follow Ramirez to either Albuquerque or San Bernardino, or both, next week doesn't sway Torre from believing Ramirez not only needs to play the field in Class A, but to also face Triple-A pitching. Ramirez has been working out at Dodger Stadium for nearly a month.
"When you're talking circus, we'll be going to New York after his return in San Diego," Torre said. "He played for Boston for seven years. He understands it. Whether he can handle it or not, it's not a shock. Whatever he [encounters in the Minor Leagues] will be minor compared to New York. Do I think there is a benefit for having those at-bats? I do. A certain amount of practice he'll be able to benefit from."
Ideally, Ramirez would play all of the games in one location, but the schedules of the clubs make that problematic, which is why the Dodgers hope he plays Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in Albuquerque, takes Friday off, then joins Inland Empire for games Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
"I think he's excited about the prospects of reaching out and touching it," Torre said of Ramirez's long-awaited return to game action. "Playing is what he knows, and there's nothing in him to get in the way of that. Will it be uncomfortable for a while? It probably will be. He won't be allowed to just play baseball.
"When he came over to us last year, he said he just wanted to play baseball and go home. It will be a time before he's able to do that. Once we get home, he'll be more able to do that. His first experience will be a major thing to deal with, people yelling out, being hunted by the media."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.