Changeup: Manny jokes about playing 5 more years
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) – Manny Ramirez is having some fun with those quirky comments he made about his future.
The enigmatic outfielder caused quite a stir Monday by saying this will be his last year with the Los Angeles Dodgers – and possibly the final season of his career. He was so amused by all the attention his quotes received that he started throwing changeups Tuesday.
Playfully joking with a pair of reporters in the clubhouse, Ramirez said that after he practiced Monday, he felt as though he could play five more years.
“I’ll play three more for this team and two more in Japan. Put that in there. I want to see myself on ESPN again,” he said.
Dodgers manager Joe Torre wasn’t surprised at how much attention Ramirez’s comments got Monday.
“All it takes is one particular sentence,” Torre said. “And you know Manny. He says a lot of stuff. It’s not that he doesn’t mean it, but as an outsider looking in, I hope he plays a lot of baseball. He still has a lot to give.”
After two spring training workouts, Ramirez appeared to be in a good mood Tuesday. He spent part of the morning showing off an energy drink with a racy label that was sitting in his locker
“He likes to play around, and after all those years in Boston, you try not to take yourself too seriously,” Torre said. “But he certainly is a fun-loving guy and he’s in a good frame of mind right now. I don’t see somebody who is thinking about the drudgery of the season right now.”
The 37-year-old Ramirez is heading into his 17th major league season. The 2004 World Series MVP served a 50-game drug suspension last year and batted .290 with 19 home runs and 63 RBIs. He is entering the final year of his contract with Los Angeles.
In an attempt to keep Ramirez fresh late into the season, Torre said he plans to give the left fielder more days off.
Third baseman Casey Blake, 36, also will get more down time after dealing with hamstring issues in both legs last season. He missed a handful of games in May and even more down the stretch in September.
Blake said he took pilates and yoga classes with his wife this winter. He’ll also drink as much water as possible because he’s convinced dehydration led to his leg problems.
“On the days (the hamstring injuries) happened, my body had trouble warming up,” Blake said. “I had trouble getting loose and felt really lethargic.”
Blake came to the Dodgers in a trade-deadline deal in 2008, but last year was his first full season in Los Angeles. He said that not being used to demanding West Coast travel could have led to the exhaustion that prompted the dehydration.
“I’m just going to have to crush water,” he said.
Another significant change for Blake is the absence of his familiar beard, which he started growing in 2007. With that beard, Blake appeared in a league championship series for three consecutive seasons (2007 with the Indians, and 2008-09 with the Dodgers).
His teams never advanced to the World Series, though. But he says that’s not the reason he’s now clean-shaven.
“The last duck hunt we had of the season, I was so mad about the season that I came home and shaved it,” Blake said. “I’ll see how it goes. People say it makes me look younger, so maybe I’ll re-negotiate my contract.”