Manny homers in first at-bat in Class A
Slugger knocks second pitch he sees out of ballpark
LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. -- It didn't take long for Dodgers suspended slugger Manny Ramirez to make his presence felt during his first game with the Class A Inland Empire 66ers on Saturday.
It took just two pitches.
After he was greeted with mainly cheers (although mixed with a few audible boos) from a crowd of 8,099 at the sold-out Lake Elsinore Diamond, Ramirez homered over the left-field fence off Nick Schmidt, the Padres' first-round pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft.
"The kids had a blast," Sixers manager Carlos Subero said after the game. "I think they were going to give him the silent treatment [after the home run] and they all just jumped on him."
The homer also was Ramirez's first hit in his Minor League assignment; he had gone 0-for-3 with a walk in his previous four at-bats over two games with Triple-A Albuquerque.
His next time up in the third inning, Ramirez's bat never left his shoulder. Schmidt didn't seem to want to give Ramirez the opportunity for another bomb, nibbling around the corners throughout the at-bat before issuing a walk.
Ramirez then advanced from to third on a deep double to center field and scored later in the inning for his second run of the game.
"Patience -- somebody with great discipline," Subero said of his impressions of Ramirez. "[The] swing looked great, and the biggest thing is timing you know when you're out so much time your timing is such a key thing."
In the fifth, Ramirez recorded his second hit of the game off Schmidt. On a 2-0 count he rifled a single up the middle that nearly took out Schmidt's legs.
Two batters later, Ramirez got doubled up on a fly out to deep center field. And with that, Ramirez's night was over after registering three at-bats.
Subero said the club decided before the fifth that Ramirez's third at-bat would be his last. He gave Ramirez the option of a pinch-runner if he reached base, but Ramirez wanted to get in a few more runs.
"I told him before that last at-bat, we knew that it was his last at-bat so I told him 'Hey, if you get to first base, do you want us to take you out?' He said, 'No, I want to get my legs going.'"
Ramirez elected not to speak with the media before the game.
The man of the hour made his grand entrance to the visitor's dugout minutes before warm-ups and strode past reporters before finding a seat near the end of the bench.
He then declined to talk after batting practice, replying to reporters' interview requests with a simple "No, gracias."
Ramirez, suspended 50 games for violating the MLB drug policy, is expected to play in the next three games for the Sixers, but Subero said before Saturday's game that plan wasn't absolute.
Subero also said that he expects Ramirez, who DH'd on Saturday, to play in left field on Sunday and that he should play about seven innings.
When asked if his job basically was not to screw anything up, Subero was frank in describing his current assignment.
"There's not much I can do," he said. "I just write the line-up ... the rest is up to him. I ain't giving him no bunt sign or nothing."
David Ely is an associate reporter with MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.