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Getting MVP might be a stretch

September 16, 2008|Dylan Hernandez | Times Staff Writer

PITTSBURGH -- Could Manny Ramirez be the most valuable player of the National League?

"I don't think that's going to happen," Dodgers Manager Joe Torre said Monday. "It's August, September, two months."

Though Torre said he wouldn't be surprised to see Ramirez be named on some ballots, he doesn't expect him to receive any first-place votes.

"Manny's certainly made a difference where we were and where we are now," Torre said. "If we get this done, he certainly would be a major influence on it. . . . It depends on whatever interpretation of the MVP award is."

Torre recalled how there was controversy when he won the NL MVP award in 1971 by beating out Willie Stargell, whose team won the World Series.

"I had the best year of anybody, but my team went home and he went to the World Series," Torre said. "That argument would still happen today."

More on Manny

Ramirez could get his first day off as a Dodger on Thursday afternoon in the final game of the four-game series in Pittsburgh.

"That'd be the first temptation," Torre said.

Ramirez, who started his 41st consecutive game Monday, said he had no opinion on the matter. He said that he felt fine physically.

"If he wants to give it to me, that's fine," he said. "I don't mind."

LaRoche loving Pittsburgh

Facing the Dodgers for the first time since they sent him to Pittsburgh as part of a three-way trade to acquire Ramirez, Andy LaRoche said he wasn't bitter about being let go by his former team.

"I can say I got traded for Manny Ramirez," he said. "I saw it as a deal they had to make. It's not like they thought I was bad and gave me away for a box of bats."

In triple-A Las Vegas at the time that he was traded, LaRoche said he thought the situation in Pittsburgh was better for him personally. He has become the Pirates' regular third baseman as a rookie. Although LaRoche said he missed the former teammates with whom he was reunited Monday, he added, "I don't miss not playing."

LaRoche is two lockers away from his brother, Adam. Andy lives with Adam and his family, and baby-sits his nephews when Adam and his wife want to go out.

LaRoche has struggled on the field. He entered the series with the Dodgers hitting only .175, including .161 with the Pirates. Shortly after the trade, LaRoche reinjured the thumb that had him on the disabled list at the start of the season, and he said he was making constant adjustments to his swing because he was afraid of getting jammed.

Slow going for Kuo

Left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo, who on Sunday pitched for the first time in a week, had discomfort in his elbow and was unavailable.

"We have to be a little more aware of his usage," Torre said of Kuo, who has had two major elbow surgeries.

Decreased usage of Kuo could result in a greater role for rookie Scott Elbert, who hasn't given up a run in his last three appearances.

Short hops

Casey Blake, who was pulled from the game Sunday because of lower back pain, was out of the lineup. He was replaced at third base by Nomar Garciaparra. . . . Jeff Kent has started taking batting practice in Los Angeles. . . . Torre said last week that he thought shortstop Rafael Furcal could be activated in Pittsburgh, but Furcal's recovery is taking longer than expected. "This is going to be a slow process," Torre said. . . . Andre Ethier, who was in Arizona with his wife for the birth of their first child, was scheduled to fly into Pittsburgh on Monday. He was out of the lineup for the third consecutive day.


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