Manny Returns to the Dodger Lineup
- Updated: July 3, 2009
Manny Ramirez returns to the Dodgers’ lineup tomorrow not as a pariah, but as a prodigal son. All has been foriven after his 50-game exile for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs when he takes the field for the Dodgers in San Diego.
Mannywood, otherwise known as the left-field bleachers, will be back and open for business as a Dodger marketing tool — as National Sports Examiner Paula Duffy notes.
Dodger owner Frank McCourt has been shamelessly passing out All-Star ballots with Manny’s name encircled. (Full disclosure: I voted for Manny several times to be an All-Star this year — but not out of a love for Manny, but to shame MLB and highlight the absurdity of its lax steroids policy).
Even Joe Torre, usually a man who can be counted on to stick up for integrity in the game, publicly voiced his eagerness to get Manny back in the lineup. In fairness, it’s Torre’s job to help the Dodgers win games, not be an embassador for the games. But would it have been too much to ask for Torre to be perfunctionary and staid in his response to the inevitable questions?
As Yahoo notes, when Manny visited Dodger Stadium in early June, he said he was ready to move on and didn’t want to be a distraction.
“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 said.
And that’s about the extent of Manny’s remorse (meaning none), and he will probably will say nothing else of substance beyond that as the circus that will surround him starting on Friday. After San Diego, the Dodgers head to New York. Expect the rabid press there to try to give him the business. And expect Manny to give nothing back.
Getting to Manny’s affect on the lineup, it can only be good. He’ll be right back in there hitting in the 3-hole, and his very presence — even if he takes a while to get his stroke back — will make the Dodgers lineup better. And while the offense has been in a bit of a slump lately, the Dodgers have been just fine without him. They’re on pace for 100 wins, and — as TrueBlueLA points out — the Dodgers have the best record in the NL since Manny exited the lineup. In fact, despite shuffling lately, the Dodgers still have the best record in baseball.
One has to feel bad for Juan Pierre, who will be sent to the bench for the second time by Manny — and has done nothing but produce for the Dodgers when called upon. Pierre is hitting .322 on the season, and has not just scored runs and caused havoc on the bases, but has driven in runs. He’s been the player the Dodgers thought they signed to play full-time in the outfield before landing Manny was a dream of the McCourts last summer.