Manny Ramirez is back with the Dodgers. The question is: for how long?
After playing two games -- well one game, plus an inning -- of the Dodgers last 46 games, Manny Ramirez is back in the Dodger lineup tonight, having been activated from the disabled list. Manager Joe Torre had a plan of resting Manny today, then activating him for Sunday's game, but Ramirez said he was ready to play today. As it stands, Manny will play tonight and rest tomorrow.
Torre said he has talked to all the outfielders explaining that he would try to get everyone playing time. On Manny, Torre said, "We have a couple of night games on the road trip, and I don’t mind playing him back to back. If he can play, he’ll stay out there."
The funniest moment of the night so far came from Hong-Chih Kuo, who didn't know Manny would be activated tonight, let alone even be here. Kuo was walking out of the clubhouse on his way to warm up, when he stopped dead in his tracks near the locker room exit. He did a double take, then turned with a big grin on his face and asked, "Manny? You're back?" then the two shook hands. By the way, Manny calls Kuo, "Kuo."
Although it wasn't discussed (nor will it be, at least publicly), Manny will almost surely be placed on waivers this week, with the thought that an American League team, like the Rays or White Sox, would be interested in picking up part, if not all, of Manny's remaining salary, which will be about $3.6 million from September 1 on.
Here are some notes from Torre's pregame meeting with reporters:
Juan Castro was designated for assignment to make room for Manny, although he is expected to clear waivers and will likely return once rosters expand on September 1.
- Ronnie Belliard will be "moved to the back of the line" among pinch hitters, as he is the primary backup at both second and shortstop, at least until Rafael Furcal gets back.
- Furcal had another MRI this morning, and the results showed nothing new. He is not at the ballpark tonight, and will head to Arizona for rehab and treatment, perhaps as soon as tomorrow.
- Loney was given the night off because he was dragging a bit at the plate. Jay Gibbons starts at first base in his place, the first major league game for Gibbons at first base since September 5, 2005.
- Jeff Weaver will throw a bullpen session, then pitch for Inland Empire Tuesday for one inning, followed by a two-inning outing Friday or Saturday, with the plan that Weaver will rejoin the club for the start of the next homestand. Torre also said if the bullpen is overworked this week -- "a case of the shorts" he called it -- Weaver is healthy enough to be activated if needed in a pinch.
- Torre said Ryan Theriot is batting leadoff over Jamey Carroll because he "has a little more thump" (Theriot has a career .361 slugging percentage, compared to .348 for Carroll) and that he is used to hitting at the top of the lineup more than Carroll. Of his earlier plans to have Carroll bat leadoff with Scott Podsednik out, Torre added that was with the idea of having Theriot batting second, and with Manny Ramirez back and Andre Ethier batting second tonight, there was no room at the top for Carroll.
- Torre said "it helps to not make it easier on the opposing manager" with Manny Ramirez batting in between two left-handers in the lineup, a contrast to recent lineups. Torre did add that Ethier and Loney "have been batting back-to-back because they have been our most consistent hitters." Loney, it should be noted, is hitting .206/.265/.317 since the All-Star break.