Ramirez was claimed off waivers Friday by the White Sox (Texas and Tampa also put in claims). The Dodgers have until Tuesday morning to deal him and the remaining $4.3 million on his contract to Chicago or keep him.
It's been speculated that Ramirez is demanding a contract extension to approve a trade and the White Sox are balking. Perhaps his benching convinces Ramirez that moving on to be a White Sox DH without a contract extension is a better career move than sitting with the Dodgers.
In the meantime, the Dodgers are in a critical series with the Rockies to establish their legitimacy as National League Wild Card contenders. They had a four-game win streak snapped by a 5-3 loss on Saturday in which Ramirez struck out as a pinch-hitter with a man on in the seventh.
Torre insisted he was not ordered to not play Ramirez. Colletti insisted he gave no orders to his manager and never has. Maybe Torre is savvy enough that he doesn't need to be told who shouldn't play and when.
"I've never told Joe or any manager at any point in time who to play or not to play," said Colletti.
"I decided to go with speed and energy guys at the top instead of using Manny today," said Torre, who started Scott Podsednik again in Coors Field's spacious left field.
"It's not an easy decision. It has nothing to do with the waivers and the gossip. I'm not messing with you. There's no reasoning I can give you that will make sense. A lot of what I do is a feel thing. He's still there, but now all of a sudden instead of four outfielders we have six or seven, all with different skills. Which personality do I want today? There's no guarantee the decision-making is going to work. Right now, I just like the feel of what's going on. And Manny was part of it three days ago."
The lineup card drew raised eyebrows even from some of Ramirez's teammates. One speculated the Dodgers can make the trade of Ramirez more palatable to fans by first showing the current roster can win without him.
Torre met with Ramirez on Saturday and said they discussed coming up with a playing schedule for September -- "If all the gossip is out of the way," Torre said -- to maximize the outfielder's participation without risking a fourth leg injury. But Torre measured his words carefully when asked if Ramirez had become a bench player.
"He's used to playing every day, but every day at 38 isn't every day," Torre said. "He told me last night it was my decision. He's not easy to sit down."
But he might be easy to trade. Torre said dealing a player doesn't mean the club has thrown in the towel.
"If one of our players is not on this team it doesn't mean we're waving the white flag, not by any stretch," he said. "We're pretty excited about trying to get back into this thing. If something happens, it's not to rid ourselves of someone, it's to help the team. You're using Manny, but it could be someone else, too."