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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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