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Category: Manny Ramirez

Matt Kemp 'happy' Ryan Braun wasn't suspended

Kemp

Matt Kemp said he was pleased to hear Ryan Braun was successful in appealing his positive drug test from last year.

“I was happy that he was not found guilty,” Kemp said. “I know he’s been going through a lot. Now, he and the Brewers can concentrate on just playing baseball, going about their business.”

Kemp finished second in MVP voting last season to the Milwaukee Brewers outfielder, who avoided a 50-game suspension.

“I didn’t vote for who was supposed to get MVP,” Kemp said. “The writers voted. I didn’t win. I still feel the same way. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t win. You turn the page and I’ll get ready for this season and try to have an even better season than I did last year.”

Kemp said he hasn’t spoken to Braun, whom he has called “a friend.”

“I’m sure I’ll see him in spring training,” Kemp said. “We play them a couple of times this spring training, so I’ll chat it up with him like we always do.”

Kemp didn’t share his thoughts on reports that Braun escaped punishment on a technicality. Braun’s lawyers argued that his urine sample was not handled correctly, according to multiple reports.

“I don’t know how any of that works,” Kemp said. “I don’t get into any of that, man. All I know is that he gets to play and help his team win as many games as he can.”

One of Kemp’s former teammates, Manny Ramirez, was suspended for violating baseball’s policy in 2009. When hearing of Braun’s reported defense, did Kemp wonder why Ramirez hadn’t tried to employ a similar strategy?

Kemp laughed and shook his head.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t know.”

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-- Dylan Hernandez in Phoenix

Photo: Matt Kemp. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times.

It's Manny Ramirez in the role of a lifetime

Manny

And now for his latest incarnation, it’s Manny Ramirez, role model! Honest to Charles Barkley.

There’s an image for you. Manny, the guy who sets a proper example, whose behavior every youngster should try to emulate. You know, minus his temper tantrums and twice being busted for performance enhancing drugs and being arrested on domestic violence charges.

It’s true, though, Manny wants back in baseball and to show everyone the right way to do things. He turns 40 in May, and they say it’s never too late.

But in a lengthy video piece with ESPN’s Pedro Gomez -- worth viewing if only to see him with his dreadlocks in a hair net and exercising in the pool with Florida retirees -- Manny talks of being a new man.

"I want to show people that Manny can change and he can do the right thing," he said.

Guess he could start by not talking in the third person. Or maybe I forgot what it sounded like to hear him speak, since he stopped talking to the media (and thus the fans) on an apparent whim his last season with the Dodgers.

When last seen at the plate, Manny was a ghost of his former fearsome self. He hit .261 with the White Sox the last month of the 2010 season after the Dodgers released him. He had one hit in 17 at-bats to start last season with Tampa Bay before his second PED bust and prompt retirement.

Now his suspension has been reduced to 50 games and he is trying to sign with a team to go out more on his own terms.

"I don’t want to leave the game like that," Manny told Gomez.

Asked why he wants back, Manny said: "First, I could still play. Second, I’m going to be a role model. A bunch of guys are going to look at me and say,'He made mistakes and he didn’t quit. Look how he finished.' "

The Dodgers, of course, have a bench pretty much devoid of power and could use a deep threat in reserve. I’d say the chances of his playing for the Dodgers next season are about the same as Zack Wheat, dead since 1972.

Asked if he’d be interested in bringing Manny back, Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said: "Not really. I love Manny but he was a huge distraction the last time he was here. I don’t think that’s what our clubhouse needs at this moment."

Manny and his wife have reconciled and he gets emotional talking to Gomez about almost losing his family. And he appears serious about his comeback, having dropped some weight.

"You don’t know what you have until you lose it," Manny said.

Or for some teams, you know exactly what you have and try to lose it.

Manny was a lock for the Hall of Fame who has now soiled his career so badly there’s something sad about his attempted reinvention. For his sake, may Manny get the finish he dreams of. Most teams, however, will probably search for their role models elsewhere.

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-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Manny Ramirez. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times.

Dodgers have no interest in Manny Ramirez

Manny3
In case you were wondering, no, Manny Ramirez isn’t on his way back to the Dodgers.

General Manager Ned Colletti immediately shot down the far-fetched idea of re-signing Ramirez, who electrified Dodger Stadium in 2008, only to be later exposed as a drug cheat and leave Los Angeles in disgrace.

“I think we’re probably past that at this point,” Colletti said.

Ramirez was on the verge of being hit with a second drug-related suspension last season when he decided to leave the Tampa Bay Rays and retire.

But he has evidently had a change of heart and wants to play somewhere. His attempt to play in the Dominican Winter League was blocked by Major League Baseball because he hadn’t served his suspension.

Ramirez has filed for reinstatement.

Taking into account the time he missed by retiring, MLB has reduced his suspension from 100 games to 50.

Still, any team that signs him would be without him for almost two months at the start of the season.

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-- Dylan Hernandez

Photo: Manny Ramirez with the Dodgers in 2010. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Earth stops on axis: Manny Ramirez plans return

Manny-ramirez_600

There is a world Manny Ramirez lives in that you have never visited. Maybe you think you have. Maybe you think you’ve actually hung out there and bathed in its wackiness, but it never really happened.

Manny is a force unto himself, for all the good and bad that evokes, for the thrilling moments and absolute bizarreness.

Now comes this, and get a hold of your dreadlocks -- Manny wants to make a comeback!

The Times’ Dylan Hernandez has confirmed a Fox Sports report by Jon Morosi that Manny wants to resume his playing career in 2012 and has applied for reinstatement.

This comes after he tested positive a second time in violation of Major League Baseball’s drug policy. One week into last season for Tampa Bay, the news broke and Manny abruptly retired rather than serve a 100-game suspension.

This latest development is typically wacky on a couple of fronts, one being if he really wanted to keep playing he should have just served out the suspension last season and then tried to resume his career.

And then, of course, there is the matter of Manny simply not being a very good ballplayer when last seen. Check that, he was horrible.

To start the season with Tampa, he was 1 for 17. He did not hit a homer in his last 15 games with the Dodgers in 2010 when, his welcome worn out by his attitude, unpredictability and uncertain injuries, he was waived and picked up by the Chicago White Sox, where he hit .261 with one homer in 88 plate appearances.

Now he’s going to turn 40 in May and wants to make a comeback.

Just bet the offers will come pouring in. To help initiate the process, Ramirez has switched agents yet again. This time Scott Boras is out and Barry Praver and Scott Shapiro are in. And good luck to all.

Because he sat out the rest of last season, MLB is apparently going all sympathetic and open to halving his suspension to 50 games this season. Which would still make his being signed a long shot.

Why is he doing it? Is he that bored? It shouldn’t be a money thing. If someone does sign him, it won’t be for much. And of course, the prorated-happy Dodgers still owe him $8.3 million in each of the next two seasons.

Manny was arrested last September in Florida for allegedly hitting his wife, though she has apparently forgiven him. Roberto Baly recently posted a picture tweeted from Manny’s wife, Juliana, of them dining out with an inscription translated by Baly that read: "Celebrating a beautiful life that's ahead with my love.”

Hey, the life behind them has certainly been interesting. Just not one that happened on your planet.

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-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers left fielder Manny Ramirez pauses during batting practice in San Diego. Credit: Robert Gauther / Los Angeles Times

Manny Ramirez formally charged with domestic violence

Manny-ramirez_600

Manny Ramirez, manchild. Manny Ramirez the slugger, the goofball, the electric hitter, the drug cheat. Manny Ramirez self-absorbed, insecure, brazen, charming, not speaking, moth to a flame.

It seemed like we’d seen every side imaginable to Ramirez, save for this:

Manny Ramirez, wife beater?

Ramirez was formally charged with misdemeanor domestic violence by the Broward County state attorney's  office in Florida on Thursday. His wife told police Sept. 12 he slapped her, which caused her to hit her head on a headboard. Police said she had face swelling and a bruise on the back of her head.

Ramirez denied hitting his wife and said he "shrugged" her. I don’t know what that means, not that it would be the first time Ramirez left us in need of a special interpreter. What, he lifted both of her shoulders up?

Whatever lasting feeling Ramirez left you with, there can be no tolerance for a husband lifting a hand against his wife, let alone a big, powerful professional athlete. Although for some reason, he’s not looking quite as big as he used to.

Ramirez is 39 and seemingly a mess. Rather than accept a 100-game suspension for testing positive a second time for a performance enhancing drug, he retired in April. "I’m at ease," he said.

Then last week, after already being arrested, he announced he wanted back in baseball and was willing to serve the suspension.

It seemed it was always the "mercurial" Ramirez, some willing to put up with his eccentricities more than others, at least for awhile. No one, however, is going to put up with hitting a woman, particularly the Florida authorities.

They don’t figure to shrug it off.

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-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Former major leaguer Manny Ramirez leaves the Broward County Jail on Sept. 13 after authorities arrested him for allegedly slapping his wife during a dispute at their South Florida home. Credit: Hans Deryk / Associated Press

Manny Ramirez arrested in domestic altercation [Updated]

Manny-ramirez_600

Trouble still seems to follow Manny Ramirez.

Ramirez electrified Dodger Stadium after joining the Dodgers the final two months of the 2008 season. Then came a positive test for performance-enhancing drugs early in 2009 and a disappointing, if confusing, 2010 season before the Dodgers ultimately released him.

When he tested positive a second time in April for PEDs, Ramirez retired from the Tampa Bay Rays and baseball. Ramirez had made over $200 million during his 16-year career, but apparently could not go off quietly into the sunset.

Monday evening Ramirez, 39, was arrested at his Weston, Fla., home over a domestic incident and taken away by police in handcuffs. The story was first reported by TMZ.com.

[Updated at 7:50 p.m.: A police report obtained by the Associated Press said Ramirez and his wife were arguing in their bedroom when he slapped her face, causing her to hit her head on their bed's headboard. He was arrested and charged by police with battery.

AP reported Ramirez denied hitting his wife, according to the report, and told a deputy she hit her head after he shrugged her. Ramirez's wife had injuries consistent with her story but did not want medical treatment.]

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-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Manny Ramirez in the Dodgers' dugout last season. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

Dodgers Web musings: Is it sweep or pack it up for Dodgers this week in San Francisco?

Desperate times call for desperate questions, and Dylan Hernandez asks a pointed one in Monday’s edition of The Times:

Do the Dodgers have to sweep the Giants in the three-game series that starts Monday night in San Francisco?

The Dodgers open play in the City by the Bay a staggering 12½ back of the Giants in the National League West. Opportunities to drag themselves back in the race are becoming precious. Could this be their final shot?

-- Hernandez also has Manager Don Mattingly’s passionate defense of struggling shortstop Rafael Furcal.

-- The Wall Street Journal reports that injured Giants fan Bryan Stow’s lawsuit against the Dodgers could make him the largest unsecured creditor. Manny Ramirez is currently the largest at $21 million.

-- Forbes’ Mike Ozanian writes that purchasing a bankrupt Major League Baseball team has proven a good investment.

-- Mike Petriello of MikeSciosciasTragicIllness said struggling Juan Uribe’s biggest problem is his penchant for swinging at balls out of the strike zone, which for him are at 41.7%.

-- So much for that thought: MLB.com’s Peter Gammons said Hiroki Kuroda will not accept a trade to an East Coast team.

-- Scout.com has a list of 20 top midseason prospects, and it doesn’t include any Dodgers.

-- ESPN/LA’s Tony Jackson said the Dodgers offense looked sadly familiar in Arizona over the weekend, and looks overmatched pretty much every game.

-- The Times’ T.J. Simers thinks General Manager Ned Colletti deserves his share of blame for how the team has performed.

-- ESPN’s Jim Bowden, a former general manager, reviews each GM heading toward the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline. His take on Colletti: Can wheel and deal with the best of them.

-- And I already miss "Friday Night Lights." A great overview by Grantland.com’s Robert Mays.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Are Dodgers finally feeling the weight of ownership chaos?

Dodgers3_250 They say what you expect them to say. It makes sense, too. All very logical.

Only right now, I’m thinking not. Thinking it sounds good, sounds right, and yet is very wrong.

For the last two seasons, to a man, the Dodgers have said the turmoil surrounding team ownership does not affect their play.

That they’re hardly thinking about Frank and Jamie McCourt’s divorce when stepping into the batter’s box or on the pitching mound. Of course, they’re not.

"I don’t think guys really pay that much attention to it," said Manger Don Mattingly. "The guys are focused on the year. I know it gets a lot of attention but I don’t think it’s something that’s in our clubhouse, that guys are worried about on a day-to-day basis.

"It doesn’t really matter to them. If it does, it’s really an excuse."

It’s the old "worry about the things you can control" approach. So sensible, no one’s even questioned it. Me, too, at least until now.

Continue reading »

Dodgers web musings: The Manny fallout and more

Friday night’s suspended game is scheduled to resume tonight at 5:30, and after a break of 20 minutes the regularly scheduled game will take place.

The Dodgers did not call up an additional pitcher for Saturday, even though they are going to have to send someone down Sunday to call up a starting pitcher, presumably John Ely. They could have just sent someone down Saturday (catcher A.J. Ellis?), and then sent that pitcher down Sunday to call up Ely.

As Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness’ Mike Petriello noted, the end result is the same. Only you’re sending Ellis down one game earlier (although I would prefer sending down catcher Hector Gimenez and take the risk he’s claimed).

And Rafael Furcal is already hurt. Hey, he made it an entire week. Manager Don Mattingly told reporters in San Diego that Furcal injured his wrist on a check swing in Colorado and won’t play in Saturday’s second game. Mattingly called him possible for Sunday.

Meanwhile, as you would expect, plenty of reaction to Manny Ramirez getting busted a second time for a drug violation and then retiring:

-- ESPN’s Jayson Stark said Manny takes a sullied legacy into retirement.

-- Fox  Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi said since his first drug suspension, Manny had been a combo of caricature, footnote and has-been.

-- CBS Sports’ Scott Miller has a final word for Manny: shame.

-- MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince finds Manny’s exit somehow fitting, and says it ends whatever slim chance he still had for the Hall of Fame. Note: He already had no chance.

-- The Times’ Joel Rubin and Bill Shaikin write the LAPD plans to bring some of its anti-gang skills to Dodger Stadium, and notes they are looking at limiting alcohol sales.

-- Times columnist Steve Lopez takes a harsh view of Frank McCourt, saying "We’ve got a minor league businessman running a major league team."

-- In a video, Fox Sports Ken Rosenthal reports that scouts are also unimpressed with the Dodgers offense and are concerned about James Loney (4 for 26).


-- ESPN/LA’s Jon Weisman takes a look at the first start of Fernando Valenzuela on its 30th anniversary.

-- Steve Dilbeck

The joyless swan song of Manny Ramirez

Manny-ramirez_275 So maybe there finally is an end to Manny being Manny.

Apparently all it takes is getting busted -- remarkably, somehow -- for drugs yet again.

Manny Ramirez notified Major League Baseball on Friday that he was retiring after he was notified of an "issue" under the league's drug-prevention program.

Out went a terse statement from MLB announcing his retirement, which included this: "Rather than continue with the process under the program, Ramirez has informed MLB that he is retiring as an active player."

What a miserable way to go. It’s one thing to leave without fanfare, but quite another to have to slither off in the shadows.

Manny had already, of course, served a 50-game drug suspension with the Dodgers in 2009 when he tried to get in touch with his feminine side. A second violation would have meant a 100-game suspension.

It points to a man desperate to reclaim the magic that deserted him last season with the Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox. He finished the season with a career-low .460 slugging percentage (he has an impressive career mark of .585). He was giving it one last go at age 38, but he seemingly didn’t feel that he could regain his bat speed and power the natural way.

Not that it helped. Manny was one for 17 for the Tampa Bay Rays this season. Wednesday, he was benched and did not make the team’s trip to Chicago, with Manager Joe Maddon saying he wanted to give Ramirez a break because he was trying too hard. By Thursday, Maddon was saying Manny had to deal with a family issue.

By Friday, the jig was up. And Manny was done. There was no more fight left.

Such a sad exit. Manny was headed to the Hall of Fame. He was one of the great hitters of his time. He ends his 19-season career with 555 home runs, 1,831 runs batted in and a .312 batting average. Numbers better than Mickey Mantle and Frank Robinson.

And in the end, he’ll best be remembered as a drug cheat. If it’s not Barry Bonds’ territory, he’s cruising the same neighborhood.

Manny was always something of a conflicting presence. When he first arrived from the heavens free of charge from the Red Sox in 2008, he was absolutely incredible. Cast away by Boston, he was relaxed and outgoing. He immediately changed the entire culture of the Dodgers' clubhouse. And in my 30 years of being around the Dodgers, I have never seen a position player so electrify a stadium. Every at-bat was an edge-of-your-seat happening.

The Dodgers don’t go to the National League Championship Series in consecutive years without him.

Then last spring he unexpectedly, and without giving reason, stopped talking to the media. He became a more reserved presence in the clubhouse. And though fairly effective, by his standards he struggled at the plate. The love affair with L.A. had run its course, and by the end of August he was waived.

Now it ends in shame, the story of a phenomenal hitter who tried to hang on too long and by any means. There’s no final Manny quip, no dramatic last at-bat, no last chapter to make it right.

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-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Manny Ramirez waits his turn to take batting practice during spring training in Florida. Credit: Dave Martin / Associated Press

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