Manny Ramirez chats with Rafael Furcal during batting practice before… (Los Angeles Times )
Reporting from San Diego
Casey Blake didn't want to talk about Manny Ramirez. Neither did Matt Kemp.
But Andre Ethier and Rafael Furcal took several minutes in the visiting clubhouse at Petco Park to share their fond recollections of Ramirez, who retired Friday instead of facing a 100-game suspension for violating baseball's drug policy for a second time.
Asked whether Ramirez was a good teammate, Ethier replied, "One hundred percent. One of the best."
Ethier talked about how Ramirez changed the Dodgers' clubhouse culture when he was acquired in a trade in 2008. He spoke of how Ramirez taught a group of young players to be confident and became the middle-of-the-lineup presence that took them to the National League Championship Series.
Ethier said he was sad to hear that Ramirez's 19-year career was over — and that it ended the way it did.
"I remember watching him playing growing up," Ethier said. "You never really think you'll get a chance to play with him. It's tough to see.
"It's unfortunate. I guess when you're at the top and you feel yourself slipping, you'll find any way to stay there."
Furcal expressed similar feelings. Though he said he hadn't spoken to Ramirez in several months, Furcal was one of the Dodgers closest to him.
"It's sad because I think he can still play," Furcal said. "I think he can hit."
Furcal said that he, too, was offered encouragement by Ramirez, particularly when he was slumping.
"He always kept me positive," Furcal said.
Garland ready to go
If Jon Garland had his way, he wouldn't be scheduled to make a rehabilitation start for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga on Sunday. He would be pitching for the Dodgers instead.
"I don't think there's a chance in hell they're going to let me," Garland said of pitching in a major league game.
Garland laughed. The last time he faced major league hitters in a game was in spring training on March 9.
Asked of the chances he starts for the Dodgers on April 15, the next time the fifth spot in the rotation comes up, Garland said, "One hundred percent. If they tell me, 'No,' they're going to have a fight on their hands."
Manager Don Mattingly said Garland is scheduled to throw about 80 pitches Sunday.
Fundraiser for Stow
The Dodgers announced that they would hold a fundraising drive Monday for Bryan Stow, the San Francisco Giants fan beaten and critically injured in the Dodger Stadium parking lot after the home opener March 31. The Dodgers have invited fans to drop by the stadium Monday, when donations would be accepted for the trust fund established on behalf of Stow and his family.
The Giants previously announced that they would donate $10,000 to that found. The Dodgers said they would donate but declined to say how much.
"That's a private matter," spokesman Josh Rawitch said.
Bonus baby Zach Lee, the Dodgers' first-round draft pick last year, pitched four scoreless innings in his professional debut. Lee struck out five, walked three and gave up two hits for Class-A Great Lakes. … Mattingly's son, minor league infielder Preston Mattingly, was re-signed by the Dodgers. The Dodgers' No. 1 draft pick in 2006, Mattingly was released by the Cleveland Indians at the end of spring training. He has never played above Class A.
Times staff writer Bill Shaikin contributed to this report