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Monday, January 9, 2012
Dodgers not courting Manny Ramirez

By Ramona Shelburne
ESPNLosAngeles.com

Manny Ramirez plans to work out for major league teams in an effort to return to the major leagues, a source told ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney last week.

Don't expect the Los Angeles Dodgers to be among his suitors.

"Not really," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said, when asked if the team had any interest in Ramirez. "To me, and I love Manny, but the last time I felt like he was a huge distraction and I don't think that's what this club needs at this point. We don't need a DH. You gotta play (outfield) in this league and I don't know if he can play in this league anymore."

Ramirez retired in April after being hit with a 100-game ban for a second violation of baseball's drug policy. He was reinstated from baseball's voluntary retirement list last month, after agreeing to serve a 50-game ban rather than the 100-game ban stipulated for repeat offenders.

His suspension will begin as soon as he signs with any team.

Last month, Ramirez told ESPNdeportes.com's Enrique Rojas that he made a mistake in using banned performance-enhancing substances and retiring without providing any explanation. He said he is in the best physical shape of the past three years.

"Every day that goes by I regret the decisions I made by following bad advice," Ramirez said. "We are human, we make mistakes, we are not perfect. Everybody deserves a chance to show he has changed."

Mattingly said he could see the 39-year-old slugger playing again, in the right situation. But he had decidedly mixed emotions on whether he thought that would be a good thing.

"I can see him hitting for the right club," Mattingly said. "I don't think he needs to play again, but I could see him playing again."

When asked if his reservations about Ramirez returning to the big leagues are because of his repeated violations of baseball's drug policy, Mattingly said:

"I don't know. I just remember him as a kid. I saw him as a kid at 19, his first at-bats in Yankee Stadium, I hate to see it end with what happened last year. So maybe he should play a little bit and throw up some numbers and retire. I'd rather see him go away and be happy with a pretty good career."

Ramirez had a second half for the ages with the Dodgers in 2008, hitting .396 with 17 home runs and 53 RBIs in just 53 games after coming over in a mid-season trade from the Boston Red Sox.

He re-signed with the club before the 2009 season, but got off on a terrible foot when he was suspended 50 games for testing positive for a banned substance. Ramirez hit .290 with 19 home runs and 63 RBIs the rest of the 2009 season as the Dodgers advanced to their second straight National League Championship Series.

The Dodgers waived Ramirez midway through the 2010 season. He was claimed by the Chicago White Sox but hit just .261 with one home run and two RBIs in 24 games with the White Sox.

He played just five games for the Tampa Bay Rays last year before testing positive for a banned substance again, and then retiring.

Ramona Shelburne is a reporter and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com.