Manny Ramirez and the search for the long ball
Manny Ramirez … singles hitter?
OK, maybe not, but Manny has been a tad lacking in the home-run department this season. Certainly by his standards.
It’s May 19 and Manny has two home runs. This from a guy who has 548 career homers, tied with Mike Schmidt for 14th on baseball’s all-time list.
Hey, where’s the entertainment? The bone-jarring dramatics? The I-can’t-believe-he-hit-the-ball-that-far drives?
Manny has been stuck in his tie with Schmidt for over a month, since he tied him April 18. You know, back when he could still hit home runs.
Of course, there are a couple of qualifiers. He missed 14 games after going on the disabled list April 23. And in 22 games he is hitting .357 with 19 runs batted in.
"That’s all I care about, RBIs from him," Manager Joe Torre said. "He’ll hit home runs, I’m not concerned about that."And to be completely fair, he did crush a ball over 400 feet in Arizona on May 12 -- one that would have gone out of almost any other ballpark -- for a bases-clearing double.
But still, come on, no Manny long ball? What’s up with that? The Dodgers aren’t paying him $20 million for base hits.
I’d love to tell you if Manny is miffed by this power outage, but you know how that’s been going.
"I think he’s fine," Torre said. "He wouldn’t be hitting .350, .360 if he was trying to hit home runs. Last year when he came back, he got so long [in his swing].
"Something [Tuesday] night that happened a lot last year, and hasn’t happened a lot this year -- he took strike three. That doesn’t happen very often. He has good coverage of the plate, a good view of the plate right now."
Manny could win another batting title -- "I don’t think there’s any question he can win a battling title," Torre said -- but they didn’t rename a section Mannywood hoping that he’d threaten 200 hits.
When he won the American League batting title in 2002 with the Red Sox, he also hit 33 home runs.
(Updated at 9:33 p.m.: Manny was a late scratch Wednesday from the starting lineup. He injured his left foot in pregame warmups. He later pinch hit in the fifth and struck out.)
-- Steve Dilbeck