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Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez returned to the lineup Saturday night, as expected, after he was activated from the 15-day disabled list with a strained right calf.
Ramirez went 1-for-4 in his return as the Colorado Rockies knocked out the Dodgers 8-0. He played the full nine innings in the field.
Ramirez was batting .415 with two home runs and 12 RBIs before he injured himself running to first base April 22 at Cincinnati. The Dodgers went just 6-8 in the 14 games he missed, including being shutout three times in the first six games he was out.
Asked how he was feeling before the game, Ramirez, who will turn 38 later this month, continued his season-long curtness with the press, saying only that he felt "good."
"Manny's back there and that'll be a little bit of a security blanket for us, hopefully," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said prior to the game. "He seems to be ready to go. He said he feels good and we'll just have to hope he gets through these first few days and go from there."
Torre didn't rule out giving Ramirez a day off on Sunday, as is customary for veterans playing a day game after a night game.
"We'll have to track him and make sure," Torre said about Ramirez's availability "Just because he's coming back tonight, doesn't make a day game after a night game any easier."
The Dodgers offense struggled mightily in the first part of Ramirez's absence, averaging just 2.6 runs a game in the first seven games he missed, but has since regained some confidence, averaging 5.1 runs in the next seven games.
"I've sensed for a time that we had some guys who were trying to do a little bit too much. So the fact that you have an experienced guy in the middle of the lineup hopefully will help that mindset," Torre said. "I think the guys in the middle of the lineup, Matt and Ethier are probably the two guys who would benefit the most."
Ramirez was acquired from Boston at the trade deadline two seasons ago, hitting .396 with 17 home runs and 53 RBIs in 53 games and leading the Dodgers to the first of back-to-back NL West titles. And his teammates are hoping they can ride his back for a while after trying to compensate for his absence.
"You add another big threat in there and it really changes the whole dynamic of the lineup," said outfielder Andre Ethier.
Ramirez's next homer will break a tie with Mike Schmidt for 14th place on the career list. His 548th came on April 18 as a pinch-hitter. Ramirez got his 2,500th hit on April 10 and his 1,800th RBI two days before he went on the DL.
This was the fourth time the 19-year veteran and 2004 World Series MVP has been on the disabled list and the first time since 2002 with the Red Sox.
The Dodgers made room for Ramirez on the active roster by optioning outfielder Xavier Paul to Triple-A Albuquerque after Friday night's 6-5 victory. Paul played in nine games, going 8 for 29 with one RBI and seven strikeouts.
"We gave X a chance to play against the right-handers and he did a good job," Torre said. "He gave us a spark in a couple of games. The kid doesn't have any fear."Ramona Shelburne is a columnist and reporter for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.