Manny just being Manny

According to The Associated Press, Tampa Bay slugger Manny Ramirez tested positive for a banned substance for the second time and informed Major League Baseball on Friday that he is retiring rather than face a 100-game suspension.
A person familiar with the events that led to the announcement confirmed to The Associated Press that Ramirez tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the nature of Ramirez’ issue with MLB’s drug policy was not publicly disclosed.
Less than two years ago, Ramirez served a 50-game suspension for violating the drug policy while with the Dodgers. At the time, Ramirez tested positive for human chorionic gonadotropin, a banned female fertility drug often used to mask steroid use.
Second-time violators get double that penalty, so Ramirez was probably looking at a 100-game sitdown.
“Major League Baseball recently notified Manny Ramirez of an issue under Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program,” the commissioner’s office released in a statement. “Rather than continue with the process under the Program, Ramirez has informed MLB that he is retiring as an active player. If Ramirez seeks reinstatement in the future, the process under the Drug Program will be completed.”
MLB said it would have no further comment.
In 18-plus seasons, Ramirez was a .312 hitter with 555 home runs. Whether his recent troubles with positive drug tests will taint what was once an inevitable nomination to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown remains to be seen.

Dodgers’ 25-man roster set

The Dodgers have announced their Opening Day roster for the 2011 championship season. As far as injuries go, they placed catcher Dioner Navarro, third baseman Casey Bake and pitchers Jon Garland and Vicente Padilla on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to March 22. Outfielder Jay Gibbons was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to March 26.

The Dodgers are carrying 11 position players — including three catchers — and 14 pitchers. A fifth starter won’t be needed until April 10, so look for a position player to probably get sent down by then.

As for today’s starting lineup against the World series champion San Francisco Giants, veteran Jamey Carroll will get the nod at second base after speculation all week that rookie Ivan De Jesus Jr. would start.

The 25-man roster, as broken down by position:

Pitchers (11):
Chad Billingsley
Jonathan Broxton
Lance Cormier
Matt Guerrier
Blake Hawksworth
Kenley Jansen
Clayton Kershaw (L)
Hong-Chih Kuo (L)
Hiroki Kuroda
Ted Lilly (L)
Mike MacDougal

Catchers (3):
Rod Barajas
A.J. Ellis
Hector Gimenez (S)

Infielders (6):
Jamey Carroll
Ivan De Jesus
Rafael Furcal (S)
Aaron Miles (S)
James Loney (L)
Juan Uribe

Outfielders (5):
Andre Ethier (L)
Tony Gwynn, Jr. (L)
Matt Kemp
Xavier Paul (L)
Marcus Thames

Dodgers trade for Ronnie Belliard

The Dodgers have acquired infielder Ronnie Belliard from the Nationals in exchange for minor leaguer Luis Garcia and a player to be named later.
Belliard, 34, has hit .346/.406/.600 in August while platooning at second base for the Nats.
Garcia, 22, has posted a 2.92 ERA in 34 relief appearances this season for the Class-A Great Lakes Loons.

Postgame: Dodgers 2, Cubs 0

The Dodgers beat the Cubs today 2-0 at Dodger Stadium. For a full recap and boxscore click here.

THE BARE ESSENTIALS:

Charlie Haeger simply shut the down the Cubs today, going 7+ scoreless innings and earning his first win with the Dodgers. He allowed only three hits and four walks.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers’ two runs came on solo jacks from Matt Kemp and Casey Blake. Kemp’s homer, a huge shot to left, came in the second inning, and Blake’s was in the fourth.

Interestingly, Jonathan Broxton — who’s posted a 3.86 ERA in August — pitched the eighth, and George Sherrill pitched the ninth. Sherrill was a bit shaky in the ninth, but got the job done in his first save opportunity as a Dodger. He’s still yet to give up a run since he was acquired.

ETC…ETC:

In the eighth inning, Matt Kemp lost a fly ball while playing right field. It was ruled a double, and it put runners on second and third with one out for Aramis Ramirez, but Broxton shut the door.

Haeger threw more fastballs today then the two he threw in his first start, but he still made his living with the knuckler. It’d be hard to not give him another go after that performance.

The Rockies and Giants play at 5 p.m. If Colorado wins, they’ll stay just 4.5 games back of the Dodgers.

ON DECK:

The Dodgers try to sweep the four-game set with the Cubs, sending Chad Billingsley (12-6, 3.70) against Ryan Dempster (6-7, 4.28).

Postgame: Diamondbacks 4, Dodgers 3 (10 innings)

The Diamondbacks beat the Dodgers 4-3 tonight in 10 innings. For a full recap and boxscore click here.

THE BARE ESSENTIALS:

The big story for the Dodgers tonight was what happened to starter Hiroki Kuroda. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Arizona pinch-hitter Rusty Ryal lined a 2-2 pitch right back at Kuroda’s right temple, and the 34-year-old righthander went down immediately. He did move, however, and CAT scans taken after the game at St. Joseph’s Hospital were negative.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers held a 3-1 lead into the ninth but closer Jonathan Broxton allowed back-to-back homers — only his third and fourth homers allowed of the season — to blow the save.

The Blue couldn’t put anything together offensively in the tenth, and the D’Backs came back with a perfectly executed bottom half of the inning off of Ramon Troncoso to get the win. Augie Ojeda singled, Dan Haren bunted him to second, and after two walks, Gerardo Parra hit a walk-off single.

ETC…ETC

The Dodgers took a 3-0 lead, but Ryal’s hit — ruled a ground-rule double — sparked the first run for the D’Backs. From there, the L.A. offense wasn’t the same, with only two hits.

Hong-Chih Kuo and George Sherrill both feasted on an Arizona lineup that was incredibly left-handed in scoreless seventh and eighth innings. The 1-7 hitters in the D’Backs order were lefties.

Offensively, Brad Ausmus had an RBI single in the second, Doug Davis threw a pick-off away in the fifth to score Rafael Furcal, and Mark Loretta hit a sac fly to bring in Casey Blake in the sixth inning.

Matt Kemp didn’t have a hit but still wreaked havoc on the basepaths, reaching base via walk in the tenth inning and stealing second and third.

ON DECK:

Randy Wolf (6-6, 3.43) tries to salvage a game for the Dodgers against Arizona’s Yusmeiro Petit (2-6, 5.87) tomorrow at 1 p.m.

Breaking: Hiroki Kuroda hit in the head by line drive

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda was hit in the head by a line drive off the bat of Arizona pinch-hitter Rusty Ryal. Ryal, replacing D’Backs starter Doug Davis, hit a 2-2 pitch right back up the middle. Kuroda reacted violently to the ball and hardly moved while on the ground. Ryal appeared apologetic; among notable Dodger reactions included 21-year-old lefthander Clayton Kershaw, who looked legitimately shocked. Eventually, a car came to take Kuroda away and James McDonald replaced him. We’ll know more later.

Postgame: Diamondbacks 4, Dodgers 1

The Diamondbacks beat the Dodgers 4-1 tonight at Chase Field. For a full recap and boxscore click here.

THE BARE ESSENTIALS:

Clayton Kershaw didn’t have one of his better outings, lasting only 4 1/3 innings while walking four and giving up six hits. He was charged with four runs, all of which came in the second inning.

The Dodgers were shut down by one of the better pitchers in baseball, as Arizona righthander Dan Haren went eight strong innings. The only run he allowed was a fifth-inning homer by Matt Kemp — Kemp’s 17th of the year.

Manny Ramirez went 3-for-4 batting fourth, but the 1-3 spots in the order — Rafael Furcal, Russell Martin, and Andre Ethier — were an alarming 0-for-10.

ETC…ETC

The Dodgers announced the signing of second-round pick Garrett Gould to a $900,000 bonus. Ken Gurnick has more on the 18-year-old from Kansas.

One good sign was the performance of the bullpen, which pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings once Kershaw exited. Ramon Troncoso, Ronald Belisario, and Guillermo Mota combined to allow only one baserunner in that time.

Haren also hit the Dodgers well, knocking an RBI single off Kershaw in the second and hitting Andre Ethier in the eighth in an apparent retaliation. Belisario had hit Arizona’ Mark Reynolds in the seventh.

A Rockies loss to Florida means the Dodgers stay five games in front of Colorado.

ON DECK:

Hiroki Kuroda (5-5, 4.21) and Doug Davis (7-10, 3.62) in game two in Arizona.

Postgame: Dodgers 9, Giants 1

The Dodgers beat the Giants 9-1 tonight in San Francisco. For a full recap and boxscore click here.

THE BARE ESSENTIALS:

Randy Wolf was dominant in eight innings of work, allowing just one run on three hits and a walk. He got his sixth win of the year and lowered his ERA to 3.43.

Manny Ramirez was truly a formidable force in the Dodger lineup, going 2-for-3 with a double, a homer, and 3 RBI, as well as two intentional walks. No. 3 hitter Andre Ethier went 3-for-5.

The runs for the Dodgers came in bunches — four in the fifth and five in the seventh. Ethier led off the scoring with a fifth-inning two-run double, and Matt Kemp capped it with a three-run homer in the seventh.

ETC…ETC:

Juan Castro made the start for the injured Orlando Hudson. Hudson’s likely to miss tomorrow’s series capper but is listed as day-to-day.

Jeff Weaver was announced as the starter for tomorrow’s game, replacing ace Chad Billingsley, who’s out with a hamstring strain. Weaver has posted a 2-1 record and 3.47 ERA in five starts so far this season while working primarily out of the bullpen.

The Giants had only one hit after the fifth inning, a single by Pablo Sandoval in the ninth. James McDonald retired the side in the ninth on just seven pitches by then getting Juan Uribe to ground into a double play and Ryan Garko to foul out.

ON DECK:

Jeff Weaver (5-4, 3.90) faces Tim Lincecum (12-3, 2.20) as the Dodgers try to sweep San Francisco.