Manny era in Los Angeles comes to a close quietly

Manny Ramirez captivated Los Angeles when he arrived two years

ago, lifting the Dodgers into the playoffs and beguiling the fans

with his dreadlocks, his smile and his big swing.

It all ended Monday when the Chicago White Sox claimed the

slugger on waivers from the Dodgers, who received nothing in

return. In reality, though, Mannywood went into foreclosure a long

time ago.

”It was time for us and it was time for him,” general manager

Ned Colletti said. ”If he could’ve played a lot in the outfield, I

would’ve kept him.”

But the 38-year-old left fielder was on the disabled list three

times this season, missing a total of 58 games because of two right

calf strains and a right hamstring strain.

He landed on the DL a second time in just his second game back

after being reinstated the first time this season.

”He wasn’t faking it. He was banged up,” Colletti said.

After returning from his latest injury on Aug. 21, Colletti said

it was clear to him that Ramirez couldn’t play the outfield even

though the slugger said he wanted to play every day. Without a

designated hitter in the NL, Ramirez became expendable.

”He wasn’t going to do that here,” manager Joe Torre said.

Torre didn’t start Ramirez in his final four games with the

team, choosing instead to go with recently acquired Scott Podsednik

as the leadoff hitter.

”Podsednik gave us a different dynamic that seemed to give us

more energy,” said Torre, acknowledging that Ramirez isn’t the

defensive player Podsednik is.

”The lack of defense was part of his inability to keep his legs

healthy, and that wasn’t his fault.”

Colletti said the White Sox rejected the Dodgers’ offer of $1.5

million for a prospect. Chicago turned down subsequent offers of $1

million and $500,000 for a lower-level prospect. Colletti said

Ramirez didn’t ask to be compensated for waiving the no-trade

clause in his two-year, $45 million contract.

Ramirez went to the White Sox as a straight waiver claim, making

them responsible for the entire $3.8 million remaining on his

deal.

That gave the cash-strapped Dodgers a break financially on the

same day owner Frank McCourt and his estranged wife Jamie’s divorce

trial began in Los Angeles Superior Court. They are fighting over

ownership of the franchise.

”It doesn’t hurt,” Colletti said of the savings, ”and we’ll

be able to use it on the baseball side now and in the future.”

Ramirez parted ways with his teammates after the team’s flight

from Colorado arrived on Sunday night. Some didn’t get a chance to

say goodbye, while others like Casey Blake gave him a hug.

On Monday, his nameplate was gone from his old locker in the

clubhouse, with someone else’s bag resting on the shelf.

But he was remembered fondly, with the consensus being that

Ramirez’s short stint was well worth everything it brought, both

good and bad.

The good included helping the Dodgers reach the NL championship

series the last two years before being eliminated by Philadephia

one step from the World Series.

”He did a lot of great stuff while he was here,” Colletti

said. ”He showed a lot of our younger players how to win and how

to play. He excited the city and the franchise.”

Matt Kemp and Blake disagreed with the public perception that

Ramirez quit on the team.

”I don’t think he quit, he was hurt,” Kemp said. ”Manny is a

little older now and he can’t do the things he used to do.”

Blake added, ”Some of the things he does in the public view

people have looked down on. There’s a lot of people out there who

see and hear things and they want to judge. That’s unfair. He’s a

different cat. He beats to his own drum. I have nothing but respect

for the guy.”

Ramirez hadn’t talked to the media since the spring, when he

said this was going to be his final season in Los Angeles. As a

result, the fans hadn’t heard much from him, either.

His final at-bat with the Dodgers ended after one pitch Sunday

against the Rockies, when he was ejected for arguing a first

strike. Some fans calling into sports talk radio shows felt Ramirez

did it deliberately.

”I don’t think the incident was premeditated,” Blake said.

”It just didn’t look good.”

Philadelphia’s Charlie Manuel, in town for his team’s series

with the Dodgers, spent seven years with Ramirez in Cleveland as

the Indians’ hitting coach and later manager.

”Manny’s definitely not a bad guy, and he definitely doesn’t

mean to cause trouble or get into trouble. But his nonchalant way –

being funny and happy and the way he goes about that – I can see

where at times it can hurt a team,” Manuel said.

”The only time where I felt like he pressed was last year in

the postseason. That’s the first time I ever saw him have a lot of

tension on him. I used to say that every day this guy is

tension-free, and that’s how he played the game. But I imagine as

he’s gotten older, it’s hard for him to understand some of the

things that really mean a lot to the team.”

However, Torre said Ramirez maintained his professionalism to

the end.

”He never was a malcontent or someone who was late coming to

the ballpark,” he said. ”We just didn’t play well and I can’t

drop it all on him.”

A poster of Ramirez scheduled as the giveaway on Sept. 17 has

been canceled, with the posters never having been printed.

Earlier this month, the ”Mannywood” sign on the short fence in

the left-field corner was removed after an insurance company

purchased signage in each corner for the final two months of the

season.

When he arrived from Boston in a deal at the trade deadline two

years ago, Ramirez quickly won over the fans. Dreadlocked wigs and

his No. 99 jersey began flying off the racks at Dodger Stadium.

He showed a flair for the dramatic playing near Hollywood, with

a pinch-hit, tie-breaking grand slam that landed in ”Mannywood”

during a game in July 2009 on his own bobblehead night.

It came a few weeks after Ramirez returned from a 50-game

suspension for violating baseball’s drug policy. After that, he

wasn’t the same offensive player and injuries began piling up.

”2009 was a tough time,” Torre said. ”He was very embarrassed

about it and it really ruined his whole year.”

Back then, Ramirez had said, ”I’m back, Part 2.”

Asked if his second act would be better than his first, he said,

”Remember, you always leave the last part for the best. So that’s

what we’re going to do.”

It never happened.