Ramirez back in action
Dodger tries his hand at cricket
Decked out in a chinstrapped red helmet, padded gloves, and pillowy shinguards, Dodger Manny Ramírez watched from the side as a bowler warmed up.
After the first ball kicked up dust and rocketed past him, Ramírez turned and wondered about his safety. But it wasn't long before one of the most feared hitters in baseball felt secure enough to step in and take a few swings with a cricket bat.
"Let me see a fast one," Ramírez said to the bowler, Souvir Bhuta, who fired a hard one-hopper.
"Very good," Ramírez said. "I'm going to talk to [Dodgers owner] Frank [ McCourt]. Maybe we could sign you. We need some pitching."
The Dodgers had yesterday off, so Circus Manny moved to Gilbert, Ariz., where Ramírez took batting lessons from Australian pro Shaun Marsh during a promotional appearance.
Ramírez has been sidelined with a tight hamstring, and he didn't run or play in the field. He said he had been treated at the team's facility before heading over for the demonstration and that he hopes to play in an exhibition game next week.
"I'm feeing better every day," Ramírez said. "We've got three weeks to Opening Day. That's what we're shooting for."
Ramírez chuckled when asked if Dodgers manager Joe Torre had authorized his outing.
"Oh, yeah. I think I'm going to retire and maybe sign with cricket," said Ramírez.
The desperation defensive deployment backfired last night in the World Baseball Classic when Dunn made a wild throw that led to four unearned runs and Venezuela won Group 2 by beating the Americans, 10-6, to conclude second-round play in Miami.
Both teams had already qualified for the semifinals this weekend in Los Angeles.
Venezuela will play the second-seeded team from Group 1 Saturday at Dodger Stadium, and the Americans will play in the other semifinal Sunday. The semifinalists from Group 1 in San Diego will be South Korea and the winner of last night's late game between Cuba and Japan.
Johnson would prefer to play Dunn in the outfield, but with Kevin Youkilis sidelined for the rest of the WBC because of a sprained ankle, there was no better option at first base.
Matsui is recovering from left knee surgery last Sept. Yankees manager Joe Girardi doesn't want to take the chance of a setback.
"We need him," said Girardi. "He's a great RBI guy."
Matsui could hit fourth until third baseman Alex Rodriguez returns from right hip surgery, possibly in May.
In other news, closer Mariano Rivera said he felt fine, one day after pitching for the first time in spring training. The righthander, coming off shoulder surgery last Oct. 7, pitched a perfect inning against the Pirates.