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Torre defends Manny after one-pitch ejection

Torre defends Manny after one-pitch ejection

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DENVER -- Manny Ramirez not only has trouble getting in games, he has trouble staying in them.

Ramirez, out of the starting lineup for a fourth consecutive game Sunday, was ejected by plate umpire Gary Cederstrom one pitch into a pinch-hitting appearance with the bases loaded in the sixth inning of a game the Dodgers lost to the Rockies, 10-5. Reed Johnson was sent up to finish the at-bat and grounded into an inning-ending double play.

It might have looked to some like Ramirez intentionally got tossed, perhaps out of anger over his current benching, but not to Dodgers manager Joe Torre, who defended Ramirez and criticized Cederstrom, the crew chief and a 22-year veteran umpire.

Ramirez's days with the Dodgers will end Monday, when the club will let him go to the Chicago White Sox on a waiver claim, according to baseball sources. There will be no players coming back to the Dodgers, who could not comment on the report.

"I came into the clubhouse [between innings]. I was angry," said Torre. "I asked Manny what he said. He said, 'The pitch was outside, it's a ball.' Manny doesn't curse. Then I asked Cederstrom between innings. He said the same thing as Manny. I'm very disappointed in the fact he threw him out. He [Cederstrom] said he [Ramirez] was 'demonstrative' about it. What the [heck] does that mean?

"The crew chief can't do that in a pennant race, or any time. This game is high pressure. I came back in and apologized to Manny for getting mad at him. I'm totally disappointed in the way Cederstrom reacted. In that situation, that's crazy."

Ramirez, as usual, wouldn't speak with reporters. However, neither would Cederstrom.

"We're not taking any questions," Cederstrom said in a message relayed by a security guard.

But one player said Cederstrom was annoyed even before Ramirez's at-bat because of complaints over balls and strikes coming from the Dodgers dugout. Torre said hitting coach Don Mattingly saw the replay of the pitch from Rockies reliever Matt Reynolds "and the pitch was off the plate eight inches or so. I was startled how quickly it happened. I was totally caught off base by that one. The situation dictates that you have to understand it's the heat of the game and be more understanding. At least issue a warning, that if you do this you're out."

Torre said Ramirez was calm while explaining what happened, but "upset because of the situation.

"He never raised his voice or anything, that's not his style. He stepped out [of the batter's box]."

Torre rejected the suggestion that Ramirez intentionally got himself ejected out of frustration or anger over his four-game benching.

"I don't think this tells me anything about Manny," Torre said. "If he mentally checked out, he would have said, 'OK, strike one.' Because of the situation, he was frustrated."

Ramirez is second on the all-time list with 21 grand slams.

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

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