07/04/09 8:36 PM ET
Manny goes deep in first at-bat Saturday
Slugger homers in first vs. Padres, exits in sixth inning
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
Manny avoided the media rather than talk about the home run he hit in his first at-bat in the Dodgers' 7-4 loss to the Padres, his second game back from a 50-game suspension for violating MLB's Drug Policy.
Ramirez turned on a 1-2 changeup from Padres starter Josh Geer with two outs in the first inning. It was his seventh home run of the year and 534th of his career, tying Ramirez with Jimmie Foxx for 16th on the all-time list. Mickey Mantle is next at 536.
In Ramirez's first game back Friday night, he went 0-for-3 with a walk and left after his sixth-inning at-bat.
In Ramirez's other two at-bats Saturday, he had hits stolen by Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera. On the first one in the fourth inning, Ramirez argued the out call by first-base umpire Sam Holbrook and was rescued from an ejection by coach Mariano Duncan. Replays, however, supported the umpire.
In Manny's third at-bat, with two out in the sixth inning and runners on the corners, Cabrera made a lunging knockdown of Ramirez's sharp bouncer, retrieved the ball and threw to second base, where umpire Dan Iassogna ruled the throw beat runner Russell Martin, who argued with Iassongna.
Replays on this one were inconclusive, even according to Martin.
"It was much closer than I thought," Martin said after watching it repeatedly. "After seeing it, I realize it was bang-bang, it could have gone either way. When it happened, I thought for sure I was safe. When you have to slow it down frame-by-frame, it's too hard to call."
Ramirez again was lifted after that sixth-inning at-bat, and when he saw the media enter the visitors' clubhouse at PETCO Park, he slipped into the weight room that is off-limits to reporters and out a side door.
Manager Joe Torre said he intends to start Ramirez in Sunday's series finale.
"We plan on playing him every day," Torre said. "If he comes in beat up, we'll alter the plan."
Torre said Ramirez went to bench coach Bob Schaefer before his sixth-inning at-bat and told him he was ready to yield to Juan Pierre. Ramirez's spot came up in the eighth inning with runners on first and second and no outs with the Padres leading, 4-2. Pierre's sacrifice bunt preceded an RBI groundout by Andre Ethier.
"It's not surprising," Torre said of Ramirez's stamina, likening it to another Spring Training. "It will take more time to get the rust off."
Torre said he thinks the first home run will "take some pressure off" Ramirez.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.