Teammates brush off Manny's comments

Teammates brush off Manny's comments

PHOENIX -- Manny Ramirez is amused by the reaction (overreaction?) to his comments that this will be his final year as a Dodger, if not as a ballplayer.

"What is life without these moments?" he asked. "I'm on top of the world."

All signs pointed to this being Ramirez's last season as a Dodger long before he said so.

His age and tired legs make a return to the American League and a designated-hitter job a logical conclusion to his career, unless he decides -- or baseball decides with a lack of interest -- that he's done.

Nonetheless, his voluntary declaration on Monday turned into a media bonanza, with Ramirez in headlines and video during the first 24-hour news cycle of the week. But from a baseball standpoint, it was business as usual in the Dodgers' clubhouse.

"Manny being Manny," pitcher Clayton Kershaw said.

It hasn't received as much attention as the comments, but Ramirez has been working on his swing in the batting cage all week along with many of the veterans, even though the first full workout isn't until Saturday.

That's partly why you couldn't find a teammate who said he felt slighted by the comments.

"Maybe he kind of feels like he's getting old and wants to be over there in a DH role," Matt Kemp said. "I know he'll give us everything he has to make us win. And if we win the World Series, he might stay another five years."

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MO< Russell Martin said that if you know Manny, you couldn't be put off by those, or any comments he makes.

"I really don't take what he says word for word," Martin said. "You never really know when he says something publicly if that's what he really means or if you should believe it. It's not that he says things for no reason. He usually has a reason. He's smart. But he also likes to play around like he isn't smart, but he really is."

Along the same lines, Andre Ethier has come to appreciate the many moods of Manny.

"I think he's just saying it to put it out there and be the joking-around Manny," Ethier said. "He's just putting it in your head, saying it just to stir it up. You can't take it all that seriously. Two weeks later, he might say he'll play another five years. It's just Manny. He likes to do the last thing you expect him to do."

Kershaw said the rule of unintended consequences can come into play with Ramirez's quirky, comical and irreverent clubhouse demeanor.

"When you have a Hall of Fame player on a team, the media attention comes with the territory, and he's a guy who garners a lot of attention, which is good," Kershaw said. "He takes a lot of attention off everybody else, which is great. He's a great person to have on the team, someone who takes the brunt of the attention, because he also takes the pressure off the rest of us."

A common understanding throughout the clubhouse is that what Manny tells reporters and what he tells his teammates are not always the same, and it's done by design. It's the game Manny plays with the media.

"You've got to know him, I guess," James Loney said. "People who don't know him, they'll listen to what he says and make any kind of judgment. From what he said, you really can't tell if he really knows or if he's assuming he won't be back. We don't get too excited about anything he tells you guys."

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