|Torre: ‘He’s got a lot of ballplayer in him.’||08.22.08 at 6:06 pm ET|
But after taking the temperature of Los Angeles clubhouse prior to the Dodgers’ game with the Phillies, Friday night at Citizens Bank Park, the sentiments regarding Ramirez are pretty much all in line with the picture Torre paints.
As for the image of Manny, well, there was no ice bag, but there sure was a smile.
Long gone was any semblance of a cooling agent affixed to a left knee, right knee, or anywhere else on the man dressed in a blue No. 99 jersey with gray baseball pants. Ramirez didn’t limp, he joked with teammates, and had little to say to the media. In other words, it was just like old times.
As he shunned the advances of the media from Philadelphia (wanting to ask about potentially playing for his old coach, Charlie Manuel), New York (possibility of playing for the Yankees), and Boston (just wanted to say, ‘Hi!’) Ramirez got ready for his Dodgers’ game with the Phillies. Up until that point Ramirez had made it worth the Dodgers’ while, hitting .406 with six homers, 21 RBI while managing a .494 on-base percentage in the 19 games since leaving the Red Sox.
As bad as it was in Boston, it is that good in LA. At least that was according to the demeanor of Ramirez and the words from his new teammates and coaches.
First and foremost was the analysis of Dodger manager Joe Torre. This is what Manny’s new mentor had to say:
“I suffered for seven years over there of him looking me right in the eye, and then of course the time he was with Cleveland, that was no easy match … It’s nice to see the other manager has to make a decision instead of me on him. He’s been fine. The thing I didn’t know about him is that besides being such a good player is his work ethic. He comes in, goes to the cage, he has set things he does in the weight room. He’s very serious along those lines. That’s the thing I didn’t know about him. His looseness I got a taste of in All-Star Games. He’s a character that has helped this ballclub. We haven’t been as loose as we could be and I think it’s a lot of young players trying to get things done.
“Discipline stuff, no. We just had the one thing where he didn’t go out to left field … Now he kids me about it all the time.”
“We sat down the first meeting, just talked to him, asked him what he was looking forward to, certain things he has to do here that we all do. I asked him how important (hair) was. He asked me, ‘Do you want me to cut it?’ I just said, ‘I want you to clean it up a little bit.’ It took a couple of weeks but he cut about (an inch) off. He came in and said, ‘What do you think?’ the day he did it. I didn’t ask him to cut it because when somebody has been doing something his whole career basically and all of a sudden you come over and say I want you to do this and this. I don’t think that’s the right thing. So I just asked him, and he said, ‘I’ll cut it if you want,’ and I just said, ‘Clean it up a little.’ The fans love him. They were beating on me for having him cut his hair because he hadn’t hit a home run. Thank God he got me off the hook by hitting a home run.
“The fans love him. They’ve been selling those bandanas dreadlocks with coming out the side. The kids look cute in them. I’m not sure adults look cute look good in them, but the kids look cute. I haven’t got one yet, they didn’t have my size.
“My wife was kidding me the day before (the trade deadline), saying, ‘Why don’t you get Manny?’ not even realizing as she was saying that something was going on. We had heard the rumor he was going to Florida.
“I had Derek Lowe, Garciaparra was with me. We had some exchanges at All-Star Games. I really didn’t call anybody, like Terry (Francona) or anybody. He would have probably been the worse guy to call because it wouldn’t have really been fair to him, so I just figured we’ll take it as it comes and if we have address it we will.
“He’ll come in the locker room, and his locker is about two-thirds of the way down, he walks in and by the time he gets to his locker he stops and talks to about four or five guys. And it’s more than just ‘Hello.’ He seems to having fun right now. You’ll see it tonight, he’ll go out and walk out there with Matt Kemp and they’ll spend a long time out in the outfield, talking. Matt Kemp I think has really appreciated (Ramirez’s) presence here.”
“Manny stole a base yesterday. It was on his own. What happened was about four days before that he said, ‘I want to steal.’ I said, ‘Go right ahead. If you think you can steal a bag, go for it.’ … It’s something you know that’s there. He’s got a lot of ballplayer in him. Unfortunately when they re-run all the stuff it’s usually him rolling around in the outfield and stuff like that because that seems to be the most entertaining. But there’s more to him that that.”
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