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

Weaver vs. Weaver matchup likely

Jeff Weaver was told before batting practice Wednesday that he will indeed be starting for the Dodgers on Saturday against the Angels, meaning he will be facing off against his brother Jered. The only thing that would derail the outing is if Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda can’t make it out of the early innings in tonight’s start.

It will be the first time brothers have faced each other in a big-league game since 2002 when Alan Benes of the Cubs faced Andy Benes of the Cardinals. Brothers have squared off against each other 20 times in history, with Joe and Phil Niekro matching up nine of those times. In 1996, the Dodgers’ Ramon Martinez faced his brother Pedro of the Expos.
– Doug Padilla

Ramirez likely headed to Inland Empire

Joe Torre said Wednesday that the Inland Empire 66ers are the most likely destination for Manny Ramirez when he starts to play minor league games in preparation for his July 3 return. Ramirez is expected to begin play for Inland Empire starting with their June 25-27 series at Lake Elsinore. He would presumably then play for the 66ers during their June 28-30 home series against Rancho Cucamonga.
– Doug Padilla

Manny’s clubhouse visit was a no-no

(AP) There will be no more visits by Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers’ clubhouse during
media access periods for the remainder of his 50-game suspension.

Dodgers spokesman Josh Rawitch said Wednesday the club received a “friendly reminder” on Wednesday from Pat Courtney, the No. 2 spokesman in the commissioner’s office, that Ramirez wasn’t allowed in the clubhouse when it is open to reporters.

Ramirez’s suspension for violating baseball’s drug rules runs through July 2.

Ramirez told reporters Tuesday: “I didn’t kill nobody, I didn’t rape nobody, so that’s it. I’m just going to come and play the game.”

“It was not a formal warning. They called to remind us,” Rawitch said. “The letter of the law says Manny is not allowed in the clubhouse while the media is present, and it is our intention to adhere to the policy. We certainly don’t expect it to happen again.”

Manny visits teammates, speaks

(AP) — Manny Ramirez visited his Dodgers teammates before their game against San Diego on Tuesday night, popping into the clubhouse before a home game for the first time since his suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s drug policy.

The dreadlocked slugger, who also talked to manager Joe Torre, told reporters he isn’t going to formally address the media about what led to his 50-game ban because it’s in the past.

“I don’t want to be a distraction for this team,” Ramirez said. “What happened, happened. I spoke to (owner) Frank McCourt, I apologized, I spoke to Joe, my teammates and I’m ready to move on.

“I didn’t kill nobody, I didn’t rape nobody, so that’s it, I’m just going to come and play the game.”

Ramirez’s first contact with his teammates came during a road trip in mid-May while the team was playing the Florida Marlins not far from his home. He has been working out at Dodger Stadium in the morning for the past week, but has been keeping a low profile since his suspension was announced on May 7.

Torre acknowledged that Ramirez’s visit surprised him.

“I can’t speak for everybody else, but it did me,” Torre said. “We had heard that he would possibly show up last week — and he has been showing up, but not when we’re here. But, again, I still think he’s uneasy being around, until he starts playing again. That’s what he wants to do.”

Los Angeles is 18-12 since Ramirez was suspended, and entered the game against the Padres with a major league-best 39-20 record. Juan Pierre has started each game in left with Ramirez out, and is batting .362 with 18 RBIs and 12 stolen bases in that stretch.

Ramirez said he has kept in touch with his teammates while he has been away.

“Sometimes after the games I’ll call my guys like (James) Loney and say ‘Hi,’ and if I see something wrong, what he’s doing, I’ll call him,” Ramirez said. “It’s not fun because you want to play, you want to win. You want to help your team, but it is what it is. They’ve been playing great. Everything’s good, man.”

Barring any rainouts, Ramirez is eligible to come back July 3 at San Diego. He hasn’t talked with Torre yet about a minor league rehab stint, but said he’ll probably need one.

“I’m just happy to be back and talking with the guys,” he said. “I’ve been hitting and running the bases. When they go on the road I’ll stay here, working out.”

Manny Ramirez still fifth in All-Star voting

NEW YORK (AP) — Suspended slugger Manny Ramirez remained fifth among NL outfielders in the latest fan voting for starting spots in the All-Star game.
The Dodgers star is serving a 50-game penalty for violating baseball’s drug policy. He is eligible to return July 3, and the All-Star game is 11 days later in St. Louis.
Philadelphia’s Raul Ibanez leads NL outfielders with 1,415,493 votes, followed by Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun (1,269,033), the Mets’ Carlos Beltran (1,092,516) and the Cubs’ Alfonso Soriano (1,078,904). Ramirez is fifth with 838,353 in results released Monday.
Ramirez hit .348 with six home runs and 20 RBIs in 27 games before he was suspended May 7.

Friday’s lineup

Juan Pierre — LF
Rafael Furcal — SS
Orlando Hudson — 2B
Casey Blake — 3B
James Loney — 1B
Russell Martin — C
Andre Ethier — RF
Matt Kemp — CF
Eric Milton — P

Not much new in the pre-batting practice session. Xavier Paul hit today and, when he’s ready, will go to Albuquerque for a rehab assignment. Joe Torre talked about the Dodgers’ recent hitting woes and attributed them, as managers tend to do, to the normal ups and downs of a 162-game schedule. He did, however, express some optimism with the recent plate efforts of Andre Ethier, who has hit safely in eight of his last nine games to raise his average to .263.

Torre: Manny should skip All-Star Game

CHICAGO (AP) — Suspended slugger Manny Ramirez should skip the All-Star game even if he’s voted in by fans, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre says.
“No,” Torre said before Friday’s game against the Chicago Cubs. “I think if you asked Manny, he’d give you the same answer.”
Despite his 50-game suspension for violating baseball’s drug policy, Ramirez is fourth among outfielders in the latest voting tallies. The Dodgers star had received 442,763 votes, about 34,000 shy of the Mets’ Carlos Beltran for the third starting spot for the game July 14 in St. Louis.
One fan even created a “Vote for Manny” Web site after the first voting results were released on May 26.
Ramirez hit .348 with six home runs and 20 RBIs in 27 games before he was suspended May 7. He is set to return to the Dodgers on July 3.
“To me, I think the significance of the All-Star Game is to reward players who have a good first half,” Torre said. “We don’t always do that, because it’s a popularity vote, for the most part. If you want to include the fans, that’s how it’s got to be.”

Casey Blake reacts to Manny

A few quotes from Casey Blake, courtesy of the Associated Press

“He knows he made a mistake. I forgive him. It’s his business.”

“I don’t think anyone was really looking for (an apology). It was something he wanted to do and I think it was heartfelt.”

“I think in Manny’s case, it made him feel better just to get in front of the team. I think it was kind of a big load off his shoulders just to greet the team again.”

“He was a guy concerned about his team and his teammates. I know he feels bad. Everyone knows how he’s feeling. It was just nice to see him again and I think it was nice for him to see us again.”

Also, according to the AP, “Ramirez spoke for a few minutes, and teammates — other than greeting him and shaking his hand — did not ask any questions, said Blake, who declined to say what words Ramirez specifically used during his address to the Dodgers.”