"I don't care what you say, when those guys [like Ramirez] are at the plate, the umpires are going to give them the benefit of the doubt on close calls for the most part. As opposed to if a young guy is coming off the bench, a veteran pitcher will probably get the call. Those guys, even when they're not hitting, they're drawing their walks, they're working the count and you're still pitching them very carefully and tough."
Which is why the Dodgers were more interested in getting Ramirez back into their lineup at last month's Trade Deadline than to dump him. A player cannot be traded between now and Aug. 31 unless he clears waivers, and that can't happen while a player is disabled.
Out for almost all of the last six weeks with right hamstring and calf problems, Ramirez will be reevaluated by the Dodgers' medical department Tuesday and is likely to start a Minor League rehab assignment this week, as will shortstop Rafael Furcal, who has been disabled with a stiff back.
"If Raffy can do everything around the bag that a shortstop does, I don't think hitting will be an issue," said manager Joe Torre, indicating that Furcal's rehab assignment is likely to be shorter than Ramirez's.
"Manny will DH, play the outfield and at some point be ready to go. He'll have to tell us, he's been away such a long time. He can go to wherever he can get the work done, he'll have to get around to this level. The more activity is more important than where it is."
Torre said Ramirez's absence when suspended last year initially was a psychological blow that his teammates overcame when they realized they could win without him.
"Maybe physically, without him in the lineup, they're not getting pitched to as much," he said. "Emotionally, we got over that last year. He's such a force, a presence. I know he doesn't hit home runs, but he's still a threat, still has the ability to knock in runs. He can scare opposing managers. If I was over there, I'd be scratching my head."