Manny struggles in return, but Dodgers still win

BY foxsports • July 4, 2009

Manny Ramirez is back in the big leagues, looking like a guy who missed 50 games.

Returning from his suspension for violating baseball's drug policy, the Los Angeles slugger barely hit the ball out of the infield in the Dodgers' 6-3 win over the San Diego Padres on Friday night.

He did provide a lot of energy to the team with baseball's best record.

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"It was great," Ramirez said. "I was kind of nervous at first, but once I stepped to the plate I was fine."

With more than half the crowd at sold-out Petco Park wearing Dodger blue and cheering him on, Ramirez went 0 for 3 with a walk. The farthest he hit the ball was a popup that second baseman David Eckstein caught in shallow center field.

He showed a good eye during his first at-bat, fouling off three pitches before walking. Right-hander Chad Gaudin brushed back Ramirez with the first pitch. Ramirez just smiled.

It was a loud at-bat, with Dodgers fans standing and cheering, and Padres fans trying to drown them out with boos.

Ramirez expects to be in the lineup for Saturday afternoon's game.

"I need a couple more games under my belt. It's going to take time," he said.

"I thought the first-inning walk was amazing, considering the 2-2 count and he worked the walk," manager Joe Torre said. "I'd be a little jumpy if I were him. There's no question he's rusty. The only way you can play this game is practice it, and he really hasn't had a lot of practice."

Ramirez popped up to end the sixth, jogged to the dugout to get his glove and cap, then headed for the clubhouse, his night finished.

Ramirez was cheered when he caught Chase Headley's flyball to end the second inning. He took off his cap as he approached the dugout and gave a security guard a playful tap on the head with it.

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