DENVER -- Rod Barajas gets to live another special part of the Major League dream Monday night.

He gets to be a Dodger at home.

"Yeah, I've thought about it," said Barajas, who was born in Ontario, Calif., grew up in the Los Angeles suburb of Santa Fe Springs and attended Cerritos Junior College.

"I get to wear the all-white uniform with 'Dodgers' across the chest. It will be very special. That's the uniform I remember growing up and I always wanted to put on. I'm going home and my family will be able to cheer for me and not pull against my team. It will be an unbelievable experience."

Barajas said he comes from a Southland family of Dodgers fans who always rooted for him to do well personally, as long as his team lost to the Dodgers.

He said growing up he would attend four or five Dodgers games a year, "any time I got a hold of tickets." He said he still has about 40 family members living in Southern California.

Since joining the Dodgers Tuesday on a waiver claim from the Mets, Barajas is batting .462 (6-for-13) with two homers and five RBIs.

Manny on bench for fourth straight game

DENVER -- Manny Ramirez, out of the Dodgers' lineup for a fourth consecutive game Sunday, will start Monday night against the Phillies, manager Joe Torre said.

"He's tentatively scheduled to start tomorrow," Torre said.

But Torre also gave further indications that he believes the current Dodgers team is better without Ramirez playing than with him, which sets the stage for Tuesday morning, the deadline for the Dodgers to make a deal with the Chicago White Sox for what has become a $20 million bench player.

Torre has been saying his team is better with Scott Podsednik in left field than Ramirez for four games now by virtue of his starting lineup.

"Anything I've done here has been game-related," Torre said as far as his lineups. "The game is the priority for me as long as the games still are important."

Although Ramirez has Hall of Fame credentials, he's also 38 years old, has become essentially a singles and doubles hitter and last week came off his third stint on the disabled list with leg injuries.

"He certainly has value, talent and all that good stuff, it's a matter of which way you want to proceed," said Torre. "If we had the DH, we wouldn't be having this conversation, but we don't have that, so it means you put together a lineup with [defensive] coverage, like here [with a massive outfield to cover].

"There's a lot more things to think about. Manny has been on the DL. We've made changes in personnel. Podsednik is an interesting player for me. When he's on base, there's a danger something can happen. He brings a different dynamic that's worked for us."

So, there are the baseball reasons why Ramirez, who started Tuesday and Wednesday after being activated, hasn't started since. Then there's the business side. Ramirez is owed another $4.3 million this year that the Dodgers would like not to be paying, especially if the baseball side doesn't feel like he's good enough to play every day.

Also, if a deal is scuttled because Ramirez insists on a contract extension from the White Sox in return for waiving his no-trade clause, he would do it with the knowledge that he's likely to spend most of the next month on the Dodgers' bench instead of getting four at-bats a game as the White Sox designated hitter at a time when he's auditioning for a free-agent contract.

Torre said he was looking forward to Tuesday's resolution of the situation.

"If Manny is here, obviously he would get a significant amount of playing time," Torre said. "Until I'm told somebody will not be on the club, I have to think and make plans for what happens."

Torre reiterated that he hasn't been told by general manager Ned Colletti not to play Ramirez, but they have talked.

"He's told me, 'You put the team on the field you think will win a ballgame,'" Torre said. "That's been his stance in this case, about Manny."

Podsednik takes starting role in stride

DENVER -- When the Dodgers acquired Scott Podsednik from Kansas City for a pair of Minor Leaguers, it was believed as a stopgap for left field until Manny Ramirez returned from injury.

Now it looks like Podsednik is in the process of taking the job from Ramirez outright, having started four consecutive games through Sunday with Ramirez having been claimed off waivers and possibly headed to the White Sox by Tuesday.

"I wasn't thinking that far in advance," Podsednik said. "At the time of the trade, I just know so many things can take place, it would be foolish to try to predict what could happen."

Podsednik is hitting .291 with 14 runs scored and five stolen bases since his arrival, doing double duty as the leadoff hitter with Rafael Furcal also disabled with a bad back. He's a free agent after this season who just might be working his way into next year's plans as much for his leadoff skills as his outfield play.

Manager Joe Torre has praised the energy Podsednik has brought to the lineup. He hasn't spelled it out as succinctly, but the Dodgers' outfield defense is dramatically better with Podsednik than with Ramirez.

"I've been around long enough not to try to read into moves here and there," he said. "I don't try to figure out what will happen. I prepare to play and don't waste my time or energy figuring out who's playing."