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Manny Ramirez and Dodgers make no progress

Boras and Colletti resume talks, with agent clarifying earlier comments on when Manny would be signed.

February 05, 2009|Dylan Hernandez

Manny Ramirez might not be signed by the start of spring training after all.

Ramirez's agent, Scott Boras, on Wednesday clarified a statement he made last week about his expectation that his client would be signed by the time camp opened. "When I talk about the start of spring training, I talk about when the games begin," he said.

Players will start reporting to the Dodgers' camp on Feb. 14. Their first scheduled Cactus League game isn't until Feb. 25.

When Boras first addressed when Ramirez's signing could fall relative to the start of camp last week, he said so in response to what he described as a growing market for Ramirez. But several teams, including the Angels, New York Yankees, New York Mets and Washington Nationals stated they weren't interested in signing the 36-year-old All-Star outfielder. The San Francisco Giants are the only other team openly courting Ramirez.

Boras and Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti resumed talks on Wednesday evening, two days after Ramirez rejected the Dodgers' offer of a one-year, $25-million contract.

Colletti wrote in a text message that the two sides restated their respective positions -- Ramirez has been asking for at least a four-year deal and the Dodgers are interested in something shorter. The sides agreed to maintain communication over the next few days, Colletti added.

While the Dodgers remained uncertain about how much it would cost them to re-sign Ramirez, the final stop of their community outreach program on Wednesday was, coincidentally, a taping of "The Price Is Right."

Players on the caravan the last two days were repeatedly asked about Ramirez by everyone from school children to reporters, sometimes to their annoyance. Among those players was catcher Russell Martin, the last Dodgers player known to speak to Ramirez.

"I don't know what Manny's going to do," Martin said. "I don't think Manny knows what he's going to do."

Martin said that when they last spoke around three weeks ago, he got the impression Ramirez wanted to be back in L.A.

Dodgers owner Frank McCourt said he hoped that was the case.

"I'm certainly hopeful he wants to come back," McCourt said. "I do find what happened this past season -- the incredible embrace the Dodger fans gave Manny, in turn the fun and excitement he provided the fans -- I think it's very rare in sports. One would think that a player would enjoy that."

Boras conceded that point.

"Manny Ramirez had an extraordinary time playing here and working in Los Angeles," Boras said.

"He took a team that was under .500 to the playoffs. He bonded with the fans. The fans bonded with him."

But Boras hinted that the Dodgers' refusal to offer Ramirez the long-term deal he seeks could compromise their position.

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dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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