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08/15/08 9:13 PM ET

Manny visits barber, but just for a trim

Dodgers slugger goes 0-for-3 in first game since haircut

LOS ANGELES -- After two weeks of lingering questions about his hair, Manny Ramirez finally put an end to "Dread-Gate" by getting about an inch cut off his famous dreadlocks at a Los Angeles barbershop Thursday before arriving at Dodger Stadium.

Ramirez joked he was in "the principal's office" after meeting with manager Joe Torre in his office to show him the cut, ordered by Torre per Dodgers policy. The outfielder's dreads now stop around his shoulders and do not cover up the "Ramirez" on the back of his jersey like they did before.

"He took a little bit off," Torre said. "In the initial meeting I had with him when I said, 'How important is your hair?' He said, 'You want me to cut it?' I said, 'Well, I'd like you to clean it up a little bit.' I think he was within the rules of cleaning it up a little bit."

Torre left room for possibly asking Ramirez to get another haircut down the road by saying, "Like Billy Crystal said in 'Analyze That,' 'It's a process.'"

Ramirez, a free agent in the offseason, said his hair will be shorter next season if he returns to Los Angeles, but in any case, he does not plan on getting another haircut before Spring Training.

After hitting in 11 of his first 12 games as a Dodger, Ramirez went 0-for-3 with an intentional walk Thursday in his first game since having his dreadlocks shortened.

But Torre did not appreciate being asked if Ramirez's haircut had anything to do with his performance at the plate.

"I'm not even going to dignify that with an answer," Torre said. "He's a great player, and it would be an insult to his ability for me to say it's the hair. I'm not going to go there. I really don't like to joke about somebody's ability. There's been so many jokes connected with Manny that I think it's time we really recognize him for what he's all about."

The Dodgers surely hope Ramirez's haircut does not have a Samson-Delilah effect on the slugger, as Ramirez was hitting .477 with three doubles, five homers, 16 RBIs in his first 12 games as a Dodger.

"He haunts me with this," Torre said. "He said, 'It's the hair.' Every time he gets a hit he tells me, 'It's the hair.' He's been funny. I continue to tell him, I say, 'If it was the hair, I would have snuck into your apartment when you were in Boston and shaved your head.' I said, 'It's your ability.'"

Ramirez has hit .321 with 55 homers and 163 RBIs in his career against the Yankees, having recorded more homers and RBIs against New York than any other team, so Torre knows all about that ability having managed the Yankees the past 12 years.

What has surprised Torre most about Ramirez in the two weeks he's been managing the slugger is just how hard he works to be great.

"You knew he had a natural ability, but unless you're in there every day watching the process that he goes through with the tee work and the cage work and all that stuff that he does. you really can't associate the two," Torre said. "Again, it's not a mistake. You're born with it, but what you do with it is the big difference, and he certainly doesn't take the ability for granted, from what I'm seen."

Michael Schwartz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.