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DODGERS 11, CINCINNATI 4

Manny Ramirez is feeling royally positive

The outfielder, whose two-run home run in the first inning gets the Dodgers rolling, takes aim at his detractors by saying he's still the king.

August 30, 2009|DYLAN HERNANDEZ

CINCINNATI — Manny Ramirez wanted to know something.

"Do you know the song that goes," started Ramirez, who proceeded to sing the rest of his question, " 'Pero sigo siendo el rey'?"

The line is from a ballad by Mexican ranchera singer Vicente Fernandez and translates to, "But I'm still the king."

Wonderful. More nonsense, more of what Manager Joe Torre described as an attempt by the slumping former All-Star to convince himself that he's still having fun.

But later Saturday, that forced bravado had the effect Ramirez said it would.

Ramirez hit and the Dodgers won -- the former always seems to lead to the latter, doesn't it? -- as his first-inning two-run home run put them on the path to pounding the overmatched Cincinnati Reds, 11-4, at Great American Ball Park.

Rafael Furcal, Matt Kemp and Orlando Hudson also hit home runs, as the Dodgers took advantage of an inexperienced pitching staff to score more runs than they had in any of their previous 22 games on an afternoon when Andre Ethier, Casey Blake and Russell Martin were out of the lineup.

For Ramirez, the home run was his first in 16 games and his second extra-base hit in 14 games.

Ramirez said that the confidence he has continued to express in recent weeks isn't fake.

But he acknowledged that he believes that he has no choice but to think the way he does. Thinking any other way would doom him to failure.

"You have to think positively to get positive results," he said.

He said he doesn't let his mind stray to the negative -- like how he's 37, how he's embroiled in a steroid controversy or how he was booed at Dodger Stadium a week ago.

Ramirez had a miserable night Friday, as he was one for five and left eight men on base. The bases were loaded when he struck out looking to end the game.

"But every time I was at the plate, I thought, 'I want to be in this situation,' " he said.

That part, Torre said he believed.

"He's not shying away from it," Torre said.

Whatever the results, Ramirez said he's still having fun.

Really, he insisted.

"The world continues to turn," he said. "Have fun. Life is too short. You never know when the man upstairs is going to call you."

A perspective passed down from his mother, he said.

"My mother's always calm," he said. "Nothing ever bothers her."

Ramirez said he doesn't feel as if he has to carry the team on his back.

"Everyone has to contribute a grain," he said.

Told that he was much more than a grain last season, Ramirez countered, "The boys learned a lot watching me last season. Ethier and Kemp, they've improved tremendously."

But even for the most resilient of men, there's a difference between desiring to be a certain way and actually being that way.

"We all would like to be the same guy every day, whether we hit or not," Torre said. "But when this game's your life, that's tougher to do. That's what you call human, which we're not allowed to be in this game. I'm not saying that to be sarcastic. We have to be able to get through that."

Ramirez has shared his thoughts with Furcal, who is in the midst of a season-long slump.

Furcal said he listens.

"When someone who's accomplished as much as Manny has says something like that, it's important," Furcal said.

Furcal, who drove in the deciding run of the Dodgers' win over second-place Colorado on Sunday, was five for nine in his first two games in Cincinnati. The home run Furcal hit was only his seventh of the season and first since Aug. 5.

So together, Ramirez and Furcal march on.

And they marched out of the clubhouse together Saturday, Ramirez saying only a few words.

"See, I told you," Ramirez said. "Sigo siendo el rey."

--

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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