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Effort to re-sign Manny Ramirez intensifies

Ned Colletti says he has spoken to the outfielder's agent much more over the last seven days than in any previous one-week period since November.

February 22, 2009|Dylan Hernandez

PHOENIX — On the phone and in newsprint, the Dodgers' negotiations with Manny Ramirez are intensifying.

Colletti said he has spoken "much more" to Ramirez's agent, Scott Boras, over the last seven days than in any previous one-week period since they opened talks in November.

"The conversations are more frequent and longer," said Colletti, who wouldn't say if the increased dialogue is a sign of progress. "Days are ticking off the calendar."

There is no indication that Ramirez is backing down from his demands of a long-term deal. Ramirez's only known offers were made by the Dodgers -- two years at $45 million, one year at $25 million and an offer for arbitration -- but Boras said he is also in talks with other clubs. The agent said the Dodgers could be in trouble if they don't sign Ramirez.

"We know the evidence from 2008 is that with a similarly situated team with Derek Lowe and Takashi Saito on it, for half of the season, the team lost," Boras said. "And when Manny was added, it won. The evidence is clear what you can expect in 2009."

Boras said the relatively unchanged landscape of the National League West should also factor into the Dodgers' thinking.

He pointed out that the Dodgers' most important free-agent signings of the winter, Rafael Furcal and Casey Blake, were already on the club when it acquired Ramirez in a three-way trade involving the Boston Red Sox and Pittsburgh Pirates. The Dodgers were a game under .500 at the time.

But Colletti disagreed that the team would revert to its pre-Ramirez form if it failed to re-sign the All-Star outfielder.

"Pretty much the same team?" Colletti said. Colletti continued sarcastically, "Casey Blake was playing back then, right? Furcal played almost every day, right?"

Blake, who was acquired from the Cleveland Indians in a midseason trade, didn't play his first game with the Dodgers until July 26. Furcal was sidelined from May 6 to Sept. 23 because of a bulging disk in his back that required surgery.

"There's no discounting that Manny did a great job for us," Colletti said. "There's no attempt to, but I don't think it's accurate to think this is a one-man game."

Hudson signs

The signing of Orlando Hudson isn't without risk, but with the Gold Glove second baseman guaranteed only $3.38 million, it was a risk the Dodgers had to take, Colletti said.

The Dodgers spoke to the surgeon who operated on the left wrist that Hudson dislocated last season and had him examined by a specialist as part of the physical he passed Saturday. Hudson's one-year contract will pay him a base salary of $3 million and a signing bonus of $380,000, and possibly an additional $4.62 million in incentives.

The Dodgers worked out Hudson three times: twice in Los Angeles three weeks ago and in Houston last Sunday.

The addition of Hudson prompted Manager Joe Torre to summon Blake DeWitt to his office in the morning to explain to him where he stood. DeWitt was pushed off the projected starting lineup and, perhaps, the major league roster. Colletti said he would rather have the 23-year-old get at-bats in triple A than sit on the bench in the majors.

Torre said that if Ramirez isn't signed, Juan Pierre would be the starting left fielder, meaning it would be unlikely that Blake could be moved into the outfield to make room for DeWitt at third base.

DeWitt handled unexpected news well last season and Torre said DeWitt had a similar reaction when told of Hudson's signing and he was confident DeWitt's spirit wouldn't be broken, noting, "If there's a breaking point, he's not the player we think he is."


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