Friday, June 4, 2010
Torre being protective of Manny
By Tony Jackson
LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre scoffed at the suggestion Friday that left fielder Manny Ramirez will come up with a convenient injury sometime before the team's three-game series against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on June 18-20.
The suggestion, which came from a local newspaper columnist, was based on the assumption Ramirez will try to avoid the fanfare certain to accompany his first trip to Boston since the Red Sox traded the then-disgruntled star to the Dodgers on July 31, 2008.
"This man was a big part of their first championship [in 86 years] in '04," Torre said. "You can't easily ignore that stuff. The people of Boston have been very, very fond of Manny for a long time. I would like to believe the majority of them will remember him that way."
Torre also said he wasn't concerned with Ramirez's recent lack of production in the middle of the lineup -- which, coincidentally or not, has paralleled a collective offensive malaise by the team. Ramirez entered Friday with five hits in his past 39 at-bats and with only four home runs for the season.
"He has hit some balls hard," Torre said. "Timing-wise, I just don't think he is where he wants to be right now. The lack of home runs doesn't really concern me. I think he is really a run producer, and that is what I look for from him. And I think that will really be a part of his resume as we get to the end of the year."
Blake sits again
Dodgers third baseman Casey Blake was unavailable for the second game in a row because of back spasms and was sent for an MRI exam, the results of which weren't immediately available. But after returning to the ballpark, Blake said he wasn't terribly concerned about the injury, which happened as he took ground balls during batting practice before Thursday night's game with the Atlanta Braves.
"I'm not worried," he said. "I just think after a couple of days, it should go down. I just asked them if it was something I could play through, and I asked if it was something that can get worse if I push it. They said yeah, it could. But [the pain] isn't running down my leg, so it's not in the joint or the disc."
Blake was replaced in the starting lineup by Jamey Carroll for the second game in a row. Ronnie Belliard started at second base in place of Blake DeWitt, who came in with one hit in his previous 18 at-bats, that an infield single Thursday night.
Scully will travel to Fenway
Vin Scully, the Dodgers' legendary broadcaster who years ago stopped traveling with the team to any city east of Denver, will make a rare exception when he goes to Boston to call the opener of that series on June 18. It is the first extra trip Scully will make with the club since 2004, when he also was present for the Dodgers' last visit to Boston.
Just like in 2004, Scully is making the trip at the request of Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, who is a native of the Boston area and lived most of his life there before buying the Dodgers and moving to Los Angeles six years ago.
"It's the same thing," Scully said. "He just said he would like for me to come to Boston, and I said OK, whatever you want. He is the boss."
Scully will be calling only one game because the Fox network will carry the June 19 game and ESPN will broadcast the series finale June 20. However, he will stay in town long enough to attend a dinner McCourt is hosting following the middle game.
Fenway Park carries a special memory for Scully, who long before he joined the late Red Barber on the Brooklyn Dodgers broadcast team accepted an assignment from Barber in November 1949 to call a Boston University-University of Maryland football game at Fenway for CBS Radio. Scully was still in college at the time.
"My school [Fordham] was in town playing Boston College, and there was going to be a dance after the game," Scully said. "So knowing that I was going to go to the dance, I didn't bother bringing a hat or an overcoat. I was sure I would have a beautiful booth to work in anyway. But when I got there, there was an engineer with a card table up on the roof of Fenway Park. Let me tell you, I was freezing to death up there. My jaw was stiff, and my hands were blue. But luckily for me, I didn't [complain], I just did the game."
Barber got wind of Scully's difficult working conditions when a school official from Boston University called Barber to apologize. Barber was so impressed with Scully's professionalism and lack of complaining that he assigned him to do the upcoming Harvard-Yale game and eventually brought Scully on board with the Dodgers.
Torre hopes to rest Weaver
Torre said he was hoping not to use reliever Jeff Weaver on Friday night after Weaver was unable to pitch Thursday night with the beginnings of a blister on his right middle finger. Torre said it had first come up on Wednesday, while Weaver was warming up in the bullpen to enter that day's game with the Arizona Diamondbacks in a 15th inning that never happened.
"It's a little hot spot moreso than a blister, but it's ready to become something [if he pitches with it],'' Torre said.
Dodgers settle with Lovitz
The Dodgers have settled their legal issues with actor Jon Lovitz, apparently to the satisfaction of all parties involved. The club was suing Lovitz on the grounds he allegedly had failed to honor a premium-seat ticket contract.
The club also issued a statement through the office of Josh Rawitch, the Dodgers' vice president for communications.
"Jon Lovitz has been a friend of the Dodgers for many years and always is welcome at Dodger Stadium," the statement read. "We are pleased that this matter has been resolved very quickly, very amicably, and to the satisfaction of both parties."
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.