ALBUQUERQUE — New Mexico, welcome to Mannywood.
The 15,083 fans who packed Isotopes Park on Thursday learned what it's like to be in this magical place, where only the unexpected can be expected.
The standing-room-only crowd was treated to a disappearing act by Manny Ramirez, who was never in sight once the gates of the ballpark opened because Dodgers management didn't want him to risk playing on a soaked outfield.
Forty minutes into a pregame rain delay that lasted 54 minutes, Ramirez and his friend, Rico Perdomo, exited the back door of the Albuquerque Isotopes' clubhouse and stepped into a car driven by Ray Maytorena, the Dodgers' head of security. "No thank you, sir," Ramirez told reporters as he ducked into the back seat of the car.
Ramirez's brief stay in Albuquerque was capped by another odd twist, as Isotopes President Ken Young said the Dodgers' triple-A affiliate would donate $10,000 to the Taylor Hooton Foundation, an anti-steroid charity.
Asked if the foundation was chosen because the Isotopes had reaped the benefits of hosting a suspected steroid user serving a 50-game suspension for violating baseball's drug policy, Young said, "I'm not going to say they're not connected."
The Isotopes sold more than 50,000 tickets for the four-game series against the Nashville Sounds, of which Ramirez played the first two games and was 0 for 3 with a walk.
Ramirez is spending a week in the minor leagues to prepare himself for his return to the Dodgers' lineup on July 3, Albuquerque probably will never see him again, as he is expected to return to Los Angeles today. He is scheduled to play for Class-A Inland Empire in Lake Elsinore on Saturday and in San Bernardino from Sunday to Tuesday.
Ramirez's exit was a quiet one.
Media access to the Isotopes' clubhouse was limited in the hours leading up to the game at the request of Ramirez, who didn't want to answer questions about reports that the doctor who is believed to have prescribed him a banned substance is under federal investigation. The prescription for the female fertility drug HCG is what led to Ramirez's 50-game suspension.
The clubhouse was open to reporters for only 15 minutes before batting practice instead of the usual 30. When reporters were let back into the locker room after batting practice, Ramirez was nowhere to be seen.