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02/23/10 9:30 PM EST

Torre not getting caught up in Manny saga

Dodgers skipper downplays slugger's recent headlines

PHOENIX -- Just because Manny Ramirez on Monday said this would be his last season with the Dodgers doesn't mean you don't check with him on Tuesday in case he changed his mind.

"You don't have to talk to me," he told an approaching reporter, "because I won't be here next year."

Ramirez, who hinted at retirement or a return to the American League on Monday, told other reporters Tuesday that he felt so good after practice he might play another five years.

Tune back in on Wednesday.

"All it takes is one particular sentence," manager Joe Torre said. "And you know Manny. He says a lot of stuff. It's not that he doesn't mean it, but as an outsider looking in, I hope he plays a lot of baseball. He still has a lot to give. I still think he has some things to accomplish."

While Ramirez's comments on Monday made headlines, they didn't surprise Torre or general manager Ned Colletti, who met with Ramirez earlier. All parties know that this is the final year of Ramirez's contract, that Ramirez will turn 38 in May and his legs don't take well to the demands of outfield play. And Ramirez knows that the Dodgers aren't eager to pay anybody $20-25 million a year.

All signs pointed to this being Ramirez's last year in Los Angeles long before he said it publicly.

"He likes to play a little bit, too. All those years in Boston, you try not to take yourself too seriously," Torre said. "But he certainly is a fun-loving guy and he's in a good frame of mind right now. I don't see someone who is thinking about the drudgery of the season right now."

Torre repeated that he will try to provide Ramirez with a routine of days off, specifically on day games following night games, to help preserve his stamina, especially after his late-season fade last year.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.