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DODGERS FYI

Jamie McCourt: Dodgers fans will be happy when Manny Ramirez returns

Chief executive and co-owner believes the team will continue to win until his 50-game suspension ends in July.

June 07, 2009|Jim Peltz

Dodgers fans will support Manny Ramirez when he returns in early July from his 50-game suspension for violating baseball's drug policy, Chief Executive Jamie McCourt said Saturday.

"I think I speak for a lot of people when I say all of us are disappointed," said McCourt, who owns the team with husband Frank McCourt.

Still, "I think people will welcome him back, will be happy when he's back," she said after unveiling a new ZIP Code (90090) designated for the Dodgers, a move she spearheaded.

"Let's face it, he's a great athlete," McCourt said of Ramirez. "Everyone will be happy to have him back as part of the team."

McCourt said she had not spoken to Ramirez since his suspension May 7, although Frank McCourt met with him May 9.

She said her initial statement on the suspension -- that the club was disappointed, supported Major League Baseball's drug policies and would welcome Ramirez back -- "really said it all."

McCourt said she also was gratified by the team's play during Ramirez's absence.

"It's a team," she said. "They're going to be a great team with him or without him. There's a great nucleus of kids, we have some outstanding veterans. They're going to, I think, just take it all the way."

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Ausmus' future

Brad Ausmus, the Dodgers' backup catcher, is considered one of the smarter players in baseball, and the 40-year-old Ausmus hasn't ruled out trying to be a coach or manager when his playing days are over.

"There are days when I would like to get away from the game for good, and then there are days when I think I would enjoy being part of baseball in some other facet," said Ausmus, who's in his 17th season in the majors.

But Ausmus, who studied government at Dartmouth, said he's more interested in staying in the dugout than working in the front office.

"When I think of being involved in the game post-playing career, I usually imagine it being around the guys, because to me the camaraderie makes for some of the best times that I've had in my career -- being in the locker room with players, coaches, joking around, having fun," he said.

"But that could change, I don't have anything written in stone," Ausmus added.

Russell Martin, the Dodgers' regular catcher, said Ausmus would be a strong manager or coach.

"First of all, he gets along with everybody, and he's very smart about the game, understanding situations, knowing strategy," said Martin, who likened Ausmus to a "professor" who's helped Martin become a better catcher.

Ausmus said playing for such a successful manager as Joe Torre also helps in case he becomes a coach or manager.

"Don't think for a second that wasn't part of the thought process when I was deciding where to play [this year]," Ausmus said of Torre.

And does Ausmus ever tire of hearing he's one of baseball's brainier players?

"I feel like when they say I'm one of the smarter ballplayers, it's just their way of saying I don't hit very much," he quipped.

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james.peltz@latimes.com

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