09/30/08 8:57 PM ET
He's only one man, but he's Manny
Dodgers slugger someone to look out for in NL Division Series
By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com
Plenty, if you ask the Cubs.
"When you get Manny Ramirez on the team, it doesn't just make that one spot in the lineup a little bit better," said Ryan Dempster, who will take the ball for the Cubs in Wednesday's Game 1 of the National League Division Series. "It makes the whole lineup a little bit better, because he makes the people around him better hitters."
That was a sentiment echoed throughout both clubhouses during Tuesday's workout day -- with one notable exception.
"I'm just a regular person," Ramirez said. "I don't make nobody any better."
That's hard to believe coming from a guy who hit .396 with 17 homers and 53 RBIs in 53 games for the Dodgers after coming over from the Red Sox just moments before the July 31 Trade Deadline.
Ramirez wore a big smile as he strolled into the visitors' clubhouse and appeared completely relaxed as he entertained the media for more than 10 minutes on a wide range of topics before hitting the field with the rest of his teammates.
"We're blessed to be in this situation," Ramirez said. "Not everybody gets a chance to play in the playoffs in their career, and why not go and enjoy it and forget about the little things? It's a game. If I go out there and give 100 percent and things don't go my way ... you've got to move on."
To Ramirez, the little things include only having played five games at Wrigley Field and not being familiar with some of the Chicago pitchers.
"They don't know me," Ramirez said. "I don't know them. We're just going to go play and have fun. It's not going to be the end of the world. We're just going to go and play baseball. I'm just going to go and be myself. If I see something I like, I'll swing."
As for the brick wall lurking behind the ivy and some of the other idiosyncrasies that Wrigley Field has to offer, Ramirez did not sound concerned.
"When I go to any city, I'm just worried about playing the game," Ramirez said. "I don't worry about the field or the wind. I just want to go out there and have fun. We're going out there against the best team in the National League, and hopefully, we're just going to go out there, play hard and see what happens."
OK, but how about the bleacher bums who are notorious for getting on opposing outfielders?
"I love it," he said of the Wrigley atmosphere. "I love it. That's why you play the game. Chicago Cubs, they're like Boston [fans], they've got some crazy fans that know about the game. There's going to be great energy. That's what it's all about."
Ramirez is no stranger to the playoffs. This will be his 10th Division Series, and he is the Majors' all-time leader in postseason home runs with 24 and is second in RBIs with 64. His .412 batting average in the 2004 World Series garnered him the MVP Award.
Given all that history, not to mention his performance this season for the Dodgers, it's no surprise pundits are saying that the Cubs' focus should be on shutting Ramirez down.
"I think they are wrong," Ramirez said. "They can shut me down, they've got to shut everybody in here down. Good players win games, teams win championships. I wish they shut me down and we win three games."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.