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Torre discusses questions Manny raises

Torre discusses questions on Manny

SAN DIEGO -- Manny Ramirez was back in the lineup for Saturday's day game after Friday night's return from a 50-game suspension for violating MLB's Drug Policy.

Ramirez homered in the first inning of the Dodgers' 7-4 loss to San Diego and once again exited the game in the sixth inning. He went 1-for-3 on Saturday and manager Joe Torre indicated Ramirez would be back in the starting lineup on Sunday. Ramirez was removed Friday night after his sixth-inning at-bat, going 0-for-3 with a walk.

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Manny Ramirez

Torre said he was impressed that on Ramirez's first-inning walk Friday, Padres starter Chad Gaudin threw a 3-2 slider away rather than challenge him with a fastball.

"Should we dare him to beat us?" Torre said, imagining the thought process of the opposition. "We all know he's rusty, but do we want to test him? It's the respect that follows him. You approach him that way until you watch a couple bad at-bats in a game. Then you go after him."

Torre said Ramirez appeared calmer during the game than he did in the pregame press conference Friday.

"He's very confident in his ability," Torre said. "Whether the ball goes as far, or whatever people will be looking for, I don't think he doubts himself. He's in that group, the upper-echelon, All-Star-every-year caliber of player. Then you've got the guys we question, the next group that you wonder whether they should be in the Hall of Fame."

Torre said he wasn't surprised that Ramirez was generally greeted warmly by fans in his return, but said he hoped it didn't mean that the public was blase about steroid use in the game.

"When all is said and done, I think there's a lot of curiosity, but I hate to think they don't care," Torre said. "That's not a good message to send."

Without offering up Ramirez, Torre said he would like to hear a player explain the motivation of using performance-enhancing drugs.

"It might become sort of a competition -- why should they get a leg up on me?" Torre said. "That's a natural question to ask yourself."

He speculated that "clean" players would have "a lot of resentment" toward violators. And he again defended Ramirez as suffering enough punishment for his offense.

"The exposure and the questions are punishment enough for me. Right there, your ability is questioned," Torre said. "That's big punishment. This is just a career that will always be discussed about where it should sit. Baseball records always mean something. The rules in this game haven't changed. The only change is did he or didn't he? Should he be in the Hall of Fame? It's an era of question marks."

Torre, citing his prostate cancer, called this a "frightening time. My concern is for the youngsters who look to us, plus we don't know if there are any long-term effects [of PED use] on your life. Myself, I've gone through health issues, so you think about it.

"I love the game, and part of the charm is the fan believing in everything you do. Our job is the get them to trust us again."

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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