LOS ANGELES -- As Manny Ramirez's slump continues, Dodgers manager Joe Torre concedes that "I don't think he's gotten his swagger back" after a disappointing 2009 that included a 50-game suspension for violating MLB's drug policy.
"I think the suspension hurt him a lot. It embarrassed him," Torre said of Ramirez, who is hitting .273, 40 points below his career average. "When he came back, he worked, but he was more serious minded. He didn't like the way he played after. He put a lot of pressure on himself, his balance was not the same. He's a little bit different guy this year -- line drives to right-center, left-center."
Torre predicted during the spring that Ramirez, who turned 38 earlier this week, would be less of a power hitter -- he has only four homers in 36 games (he hit 17 in 53 games for the Dodgers in 2008) -- but would still be productive. Ramirez's RBI ratio of one every 4.4 at-bats is equal to his career mark.
"His lack of home runs doesn't concern me," said Torre. "He's a run producer, and at the end of the year, that will still be part of his resume."
Torre didn't dispute that Ramirez's defense has diminished this year.
"He is what he is," he said, explaining that the automatic day game off following a night game is designed to rest Ramirez's legs, while suggesting that some of Ramirez's defensive problems result from the outfielder "maybe trying to take care of himself."
Torre also rejected speculation that Ramirez would find a way to skip the Dodgers' trip to Boston later this month.
"I think he'll show up," Torre said. "This man was part of their first championship in 2004. You can't necessarily ignore that stuff. The people of Boston are very fond of Manny."