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What should the Dodgers do with Manny Ramirez when he does return?

August 16, 2010 |  3:54 pm
Manny Ramirez is coming back, supposedly, possibly.

If you cup your ear and really, really lean forward, can you hear the cavalry coming?

Nah, probably not.

So then, what? What do the Dodgers do with their $20-million, soon-to-be-free-agent outfielder?

Trade him? Waive him? Blow him a kiss, welcome him back for the last five weeks?

If in two weeks the Dodgers are still 10 games out of first and 6½ games behind the wild-card leader, then it makes sense to see whether someone is interested in the dreadlocked onetime slugger.

Of course, that would be akin to raising the white flag on the 2010 season. Or as it’s known in the real world, facing reality. Still, it’s something the Dodgers, and General Manager Ned Colletti, understandably are loath to do. It’s just so anti-Los Angeles and all.

Still, many -- including ESPN.com’sBuster Olney (requires Insider status) -- expect that once Manny is activated from the disabled list, he will be placed on the waiver wire.

Which could cause all kinds of interesting scenarios and dilemmas for several clubs.

If you’re the White Sox, do you put a claim on him, knowing full well the Dodgers might let him go through to unload the almost $5 million left on his contract? That would be plenty more than the $1 million the White Sox offered Colletti prior to the July 31 nonwaiver trading deadline.

Would the Red Sox have to consider making a claim on him to prevent him from going to the rival Yankees, Rays or Rangers? Is that just too weird to contemplate? OK, it is, but I love it.

The Yankees are unpredictable, the Rays already have a $72-million payroll and the Rangers already have a DH in Vladimir Guerrero.

Still, though Manny may not be the slugger he was pre-female fertility drugs -- or maybe just pre-38 years -- he’s shown this season he can still be an effective hitter (.317 batting average, .516 slugging percentage) when healthy.

Of course, there is the matter of staying healthy. He’s been on the disabled list three times this season with right leg injuries. And there is the matter of his staying consistently focused enough to be productive.

I think you can assume Manny will return focused, since he will essentially be playing for next year’s contract.

Joe Torre expects Manny to return from his Phoenix sabbatical Tuesday, and then likely head off for a rehab assignment for at least the rest of the week.

That gives him only about a week to play and show other clubs he’s healthy. He cannot be waived until activated off the DL.

Then all kinds of twisted fun can start.

-- Steve Dilbeck
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