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Manny Ramirez's first game might be against Japan

He is scheduled to play in an exhibition Thursday, against a team from the World Baseball Classic.

March 07, 2009|Dylan Hernandez

MESA, ARIZ. — Manny Ramirez is tentatively scheduled to play his first exhibition game of the spring on Thursday, Manager Joe Torre said.

The Dodgers will face the second-place team in the Asian bracket of World Baseball Classic that day at Camelback Ranch.

The Dodgers' public relations department could be confronted with a logistical nightmare accommodating the national and international media if the visiting team is Japan, which has 200 reporters covering the team.

Ramirez had his first full workout with the Dodgers on Friday, showing up at the complex at 6:15 a.m. By the time Torre showed up to work at around 7 a.m., Ramirez was in the middle of conditioning drills under the watch of strength coach Brendan Huttman.

"His position in the game of baseball, he's not taking it for granted," Torre said. "It's a good message for the young players."

Ramirez added some laughter to an already loose club. He hit only one home run in several rounds of batting practice and when one particular ball fell short of the fence in left-center, he shouted, "No pop!"

"Singles hitter!" shouted back Andre Ethier, who was shagging balls in right field.

Torre said he admired the way Ramirez approached batting practice.

"He's got a plan," Torre said. "With all the people that watch him on an everyday basis, he's completely oblivious to trying to put on a show for anybody. He spends most of the time in batting practice hitting the ball to right-center field."

Broadcasting tryouts

Josh Suchon, the co-host of "Dodger Talk," will be assuming play-by-play duties for the broadcast of the Dodgers' game today against the Mariners on KABC 790 AM.

Suchon is one of six candidates the Dodgers are trying out this spring to be part of their television broadcast team.

The candidate selected by the Dodgers will fill in for Vin Scully on the 40 or so games east of Colorado that Scully will not work.

Tom Hart, who covers college sports for CBS, and Ben Wagner, the play-by-play man for the triple-A affiliate of the New York Mets in Buffalo, have already concluded their two-game trials alongside color commentator Steve Lyons. Also auditioning will be Suchon's "Dodger Talk" co-host, Ken Levine.

The final two candidates are unknown, as the Dodgers aren't releasing their names. Jeanne Zelasko of Fox Sports, who publicly campaigned for the job, isn't among the six finalists, according to club sources.

Short hops

Randy Wolf pitched three scoreless innings in the Dodgers' 5-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs to maintain his 0.00 earned-run average this spring. Wolf batted second in the Dodgers' lineup because Torre wanted him to get an extra at-bat. Wolf properly executed a sacrifice bunt in the first inning. . . . Jeff Weaver continued to make his case to be included in the Dodgers' bullpen, throwing two scoreless innings. . . . Right-hander Justin Orenduff was designated for assignment to clear a spot for Ramirez on the 40-man roster. Earlier in the day, Orenduff was one of the first players cut, along with pitchers Greg Miller, Ronald Belisario, Yhency Brazoban and Jacobo Meque. . . . Pinch-hitting specialist Mark Sweeney officially retired and was named by the Dodgers as an assistant coach. According to the Dodgers' news release, Sweeney "will serve as a liaison between the Dodgers' advance scout and the club." The Dodgers now employ the top three pinch-hitters of all-time: Lenny Harris (212 career pinch hits), the senior hitting coach at Camelback Ranch; Sweeney (175); and Manny Mota (155), the longtime Dodgers coach.

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