Ramirez was rumored to be seeking a contract extension in return for waiving a no-trade clause, which includes waiver claims, with the White Sox balking. Apparently the extension was dropped when Ramirez saw that he had become a bench player with the Dodgers. As a designated hitter for the White Sox, he has a better chance to audition for a job for next year.
Probably not coincidentally, the club decided to let the White Sox take Ramirez and $4.3 million in remaining salary shortly after his final act as a Dodger -- getting ejected from Sunday's 10-5 loss to the Rockies while pinch-hitting with the bases loaded in the sixth inning.
Ramirez's fate already appeared sealed when manager Joe Torre left him off the starting lineup Sunday for the fourth consecutive game. At age 38, Ramirez had spent three stints on the disabled list this year with right leg injuries and had become increasingly limited defensively and on the bases.
He returned from the disabled list on Aug. 21, went 0-for-3, and followed that Wednesday with a pair of doubles and a pair of walks, but also was unable to score from second base on a two-out single by Casey Blake. He apparently had lost his starting left-field job to Scott Podsednik, acquired the by the club from Kansas City a month ago for a pair of Minor Leaguers.
Ramirez was ejected Sunday by plate umpire Gary Cederstrom one pitch into his at-bat. Reed Johnson was sent up to finish the at-bat and grounded into an inning-ending double play.
It might have looked like Ramirez intentionally got himself tossed, perhaps out of anger over his current benching. Initially, Torre was hot, but he later defended Ramirez and criticized Cederstrom, the crew chief and a 22-year veteran umpire.
"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 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."
Sunday's ejection capped two frustrating seasons for Ramirez as a Dodger, during which he was paid $45 million but missed significant time, last year with a 50-game suspension for violating the MLB drug policy, this year because of injuries to his calf and hamstring.
But the frustrations for the club included the loss of Ramirez's legendary power, as well as the rapid deterioration of his 38-year-old legs and any urgency to hurry back into the lineup.
Nonetheless, there will always be 2008, when the Dodgers acquired him just before the July 31 Trade Deadline and he unleashed the greatest two months of offense in franchise history, batting .396 with 17 homers and 53 RBIs in 53 games, carrying the team into the postseason and to the National League Championship Series.