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Dodgers slugger Manny Ramirez takes day off

Tightness in his hamstring has the left fielder asking for a spot on the bench, where he'll be ready to pinch hit.

May 04, 2009|Dylan Hernandez

Manny Ramirez's request for a day off prompted Dodgers Manager Joe Torre to entertain the idea of giving periodic breaks to his $25-million left fielder.

Ramirez, who turns 37 on May 30, played in 24 of the Dodgers' first 25 games. On Sunday, he sat out.

"I knew he was slowing down the last few days but I chose to ignore it," Torre said. "What I've got to do is find a formula where we can space this stuff out."

Ramirez's mood wasn't affected by the tightness in his hamstring. Asked how he felt, Ramirez laughed and looked over at shortstop Rafael Furcal, who was also excused from playing as part of Torre's effort to protect Furcal's surgically repaired back.

"I'm on Raffy's program -- Sundays off," Ramirez said.

Ramirez said there was nothing seriously wrong with his hamstring. He didn't attribute the tightness to his heavy workload in the first month of the season, but instead to the proximity of Sunday's day game to Saturday's night game.

"There isn't much time to recover," he said. "It's not like I pulled anything."

Ramirez said he was available to pinch-hit Sunday and would "of course" be back in the lineup today when the Dodgers open a two-game set against Arizona at Dodger Stadium.

Bench gets it done

This isn't the Dodgers' bench of a year ago, as was demonstrated in their sweep-sealing, 7-3 victory over San Diego on Sunday.

On the bench were Ramirez, Furcal, catcher Russell Martin and third baseman Casey Blake. Off the bench were left fielder Juan Pierre, shortstop Juan Castro, catcher Brad Ausmus and third baseman Mark Loretta.

"Today, all the guys that were in the game that aren't normally starters contributed," Torre said. "It's a great feeling. We have a good feeling about each other right now."

The four "replacements" were a combined five for 14 at the plate with four runs.

Pierre and Castro were two for four. Pierre scored two runs, on doubles by Orlando Hudson.

"We hope -- 'we' meaning the normal bench -- we hope that Joe isn't afraid to stick us in the lineup because we've had the experiences of playing on an everyday basis and we also know that our role isn't to play every day," Ausmus said.

Loretta: pinch-hit specialist

The last time Loretta spent as much time on the bench as he is now was when he was a rookie in Milwaukee 13 years ago.

But Loretta, who Sunday made his third start of the season, is excelling in his new role as the first bat off the bench.

The 37-year-old infielder is seven for 11 (.636) with a walk, four runs and two runs batted in as a pinch-hitter and his seven pinch-hits lead the major leagues.

"For me, it's been a weaning process," Loretta said. "It's not like I had 700 at-bats last year."

Loretta had 261 at-bats as a utilityman for Houston last season.

Torre said Loretta has the right approach at the plate, pointing to the number of "ugly hits" that Loretta has collected as evidence.

"The ugly hits?" Torre said. "I love it. Good hitters get ugly hits because they're not afraid to get jammed. So many of the modern players think getting jammed is an embarrassment."

Home record trivia

Of the three other National League teams to start a season 10-0 at home -- 1983 Atlanta Braves, 1970 Chicago Cubs and 1918 New York Giants -- none advanced to the postseason. The 1983 Braves were managed by Torre and finished second to the Dodgers in the NL West. . . . Since Aug. 21, the Dodgers are 20-3 at Dodger Stadium.


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