Results not crucial for Manny in Minors
Torre wants Dodgers slugger to adjust to game speed
CHICAGO -- Media frenzy aside, all Dodgers manager Joe Torre wants from Manny Ramirez in the Minor League assignment that starts Tuesday night in Albuquerque is for him to get in games, see live action and get out in one piece.
"I don't care what the results are," Torre said of his suspended left fielder. "He just needs to get into game situations. He hasn't tried this before, been missing this much time. As much work as you do in workouts and batting practice, it's not the same as playing in games. Even if he's DHing, there's a change in atmosphere and approach you get."
Torre said he wasn't sure of Ramirez's schedule leading to his July 3 return. Tentatively, he will play three games with Triple-A Albuquerque, take Friday off to travel to California, then possibly play four games with Class A advanced Inland Empire.
Torre, however, said he wasn't sure how many games Ramirez would play in the outfield.
"It's pretty much left to him -- it's a comfort thing," Torre said.
General manager Ned Colletti wouldn't be pinned down, either.
"It's a day-to-day situation," said Colletti.
Torre said Ramirez will need to play some games in the outfield and could take "a couple days off during the time."
"Physically, there's no reason he can't [play the outfield]," said Torre. "He needs to get a number of games to get into the competitive stuff."
Torre also reiterated that when Ramirez returns, he returns as the everyday starting left fielder. Juan Pierre will become something more than a fourth outfielder, but Matt Kemp will remain in center field and Andre Ethier in right field for most games.
Torre also said his goal is to get Pierre one or two starts a week in center field, with Kemp moving to right. But Torre dismissed the suggestion that Pierre might displace Ethier as a starting outfielder.
"Matt's our center fielder. Ethier, with what he brings to the table. Manny, because of his ability, he'll play," said Torre. "Ethier is still a threat. Unless someone goes flatter than a pancacke, they go into a slump and struggle, then we'd do something, but I don't anticipate or want that to happen.
"A big part of Ethier's problem, even though we told everybody not to try to do more than they're capable of when Manny left, Ethier felt he had to be that guy with Manny not here. He battled himself. He'd never admit it, but that's what I saw."
Ethier went 2-for-5 Sunday but was hitting .177 in his previous nine games. He was hitting .317 the day Ramirez was suspended and his average has fallen to .268 going into Tuesday night's game. His combined OPS has dropped from .996 to .827.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.