Anticipation: Many thoughts on Manny

Manny Ramirez was a popular topic of discussion during Joe Torre’s pregame chat with reporters before Monday night’s game against the Colorado Rockies.

That’s understandable considering Manny’s return to the Dodgers is a mere four days away.

As much as the team would like to downplay his arrival, there is no getting around the fact the Dodgers are about to add one of the game’s top three right-handed bats.

And just in the nick of time.

The Dodgers limped into Monday’s game losing four of their last six games for the first time this season, and after dropping two straight series for the first time this season.

In fact, the recent play prompted Torre to talk to his players before Monday’s game about not falling into the trap of relaxing until Manny gets back.

Torre isn’t sure the Dodgers have throttled down a notch the last two series in anticipation of Manny, but just to be on the safe side he addressed it with the team.

“I don’t know, but I’ll certainly mention it (to the Dodgers) today.” Torre said. “With all the conversations about it…maybe. For me, I don’t think any of that would have anything to do with the pitching. Pitchers get their one opportunity every five or six days whether he’s here or not. They’re a different breed. So I don’t think so.”

Of more immediate concern is Manny’s physical status when he reports back Friday against San Diego. Bottom line, his first week or so back will be glorified spring training, only the games count and Manny will be getting in baseball shape on the fly.

“You can do all the stuff in the weight room you want to do but you still have to go out there and use muscles you’re not used to using,” Torre said.

That being said, there is no downside to adding Manny.

“Hopefully he can give us more consistent offense,” Torre said. “We’ve been very fortunate. We’ve won a lot of close games and we’ve made the most out of the runs we’ve scored, especially here at home. I think Manny’s presence in the lineup, besides the ability he brings; it’s sort of a security blanket. The difference as opposed to last year, when we sort of waited around for him to do something, is that this year we’re a more formidable group. But I think he still adds a little more credibility.”

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Estes not happy with Dodgers parting

In the Summer of Manny, this isn’t going to get a lot of attention, but it’s an interesting read. In contrast to reports that he had retired, pitcher Shawn Estes talked to the Reno Gazette-Journal last week and didn’t have the kindest of words for the Dodgers and Ned Colletti.

Estes said, in part, “When I attempted to get my release, it was denied. He was not going to let me walk; he wanted something in return for me. If I signed somewhere else and pitched well for another team, it might make him look bad.”

Q&A: Estes ‘not retired,’ still wants to play in bigs

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Three months in: Best and worst free agents

Jon Heyman at SI.com lists the best and worst free agent pick ups from last winter.

Predictably, the Dodgers’ get high marks for Orlando Hudson and Randy Wolf, although Heyman does list Manny Ramirez among the worst signings.

Hey, I get it, Manny put himself in this position by getting suspended 50 games for violating MLB’s drug policy, but it will be interesting to see where Heyman lists Manny by the end of the season.

In other words, beginning July 3 the ball is in Manny’s court.

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Postgame: Mariners 4, Dodgers 2

The Mariners defeated the Dodgers 4-2 today at Dodger Stadium. For a full reacp and box score click here

BARE ESSENTIALS

With the Dodgers’ bats struggling for the second straight game, the Mariners used a three-run third inning to essentially put the game away. The big blow came on a two-run double by Jose Lopez that, predictably, immediately followed a botched pick-off throw by pitcher Hiroki Kuroda.

The Dodgers managed just five hits against five Mariner pitchers.

Matt Kemp hit his 10th home run of the season in the fifth inning off Seattle starter Garrett Olson.

Russell Martin doubled off Olson, one of only two extra base hits for the Dodgers.

ETC…ETC.

Obviously this is no time to panic, but the Dodgers dropped their second straight series after winning their previous eight series. It’s the first time they’ve lost back-to-back series all year. Los Angeles last lost consecutive series August 22-28, 2008, getting swept at Philadelphia and at Washington.

Kuroda’s throwing error in the top of the third inning ended the Dodgers’ season-high streak of 50.2 consecutive errorless innings.

Ronald Belisario extended his consecutive scoreless innings streak to 10.2 over his last 10 games.

The Dodgers have lost four of their last five games, and have only once previously had four losses in any five-game stretch: May 7-12.

The Dodgers host the Colorado Rockies for three games before starting a long road road trip that takes them through San Diego, New York and Milwaukee, and the good news is they’ll have Manny Ramirez back by the end of the week .

ON DECK

The Dodgers begin a three-game series against Colorado Monday, sending LHP Randy Wolf (3-3, 3.64) against RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (6-7, 3.83).

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