Manny Ramirez: 'I won't be here' in '11

Updated: February 22, 2010, 6:30 PM ET
By Tony Jackson | ESPNLosAngeles.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Manny Ramirez appeared in the Dodgers clubhouse for the first time on Monday morning and promptly conceded the probability that this is his final spring training with the club.

"I won't be here next year, so I just want to enjoy myself," Ramirez said. "I don't know [if he'll play next year]. I just know I'm not going to be here. When the season is over, I will see where I'm at."

Ramirez will turn 38 on May 30 and is entering the final season of a two-year, $45 million contract. He spent a large chunk of last season serving a 50-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance and most of the rest of the season struggling at the plate.

He said he hasn't been told by club officials that the Dodgers aren't interested in re-signing him, but he added that it probably isn't realistic to expect them to do so.

Ramirez I won't be here next year, so I just want to enjoy myself. I don't know [if I'll play next year]. I just know I'm not going to be here. When the season is over, I will see where I'm at.

-- Manny Ramirez

"I'm just speculating, but I'm not 23 anymore," Ramirez said.

Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti, who spent much of the first three weeks of spring training last year working on Ramirez's current contract, wasn't about to concern himself with Ramirez's next one or the lack thereof.

"I'm not thinking about that today, I'm not worrying about that today, I'm not focusing on that today, and that isn't a priority to me today," Colletti said. "I hope he is focused on having a great year and being the best player out there. That would be great. ... If he wants to continue to play after this year, I hope he will be one of the premier free agents on the market because that will mean he had a great year for the Dodgers."

Ramirez said he will wait until after the season to determine if he wants to play in the major leagues for what would be a 19th year. His options might be limited to the American League, which uses the designated hitter, because of his defensive limitations in left field.

"The game is still fun, but I think I have to wait until the season ends and see where my family is at before I make a choice," Ramirez said. "I will just wait and see how my body reacts [this season]."

After working out for most of the winter near his South Florida home, Ramirez said his legs feel fine entering spring training.

"From the waist down, I feel 15," he said. "From the neck up, I feel 43. I feel good."

Ramirez also had little to say when asked about manager Joe Torre's plan to rest him more often to keep his legs fresher over the course of the season, an obvious reaction to the fact Ramirez hit just .218 after Sept. 1 last year.

"You have to talk to him about that," Ramirez said. "I'm an employee here. I just do what they want me to do."

Torre said he plans to rest Ramirez at least once a week and maybe more.

"I think we'll have a regular routine of having a day off," Torre said. "I think the first thing that comes to mind is that we're talking more about those day games on Sunday. Beyond that, we'll see how much rest he needs, but it'll probably be three games every two weeks. I think it's important because he is reluctant to ask [for a day off]. It's nice to go home at night knowing you're getting a day off so you can sort of relax a bit."

A late arrival to spring training in 2009 as his contract was being negotiated, Ramirez started the season batting .348 with six home runs and 20 RBIs over the first 27 games.

On May 7, though, he was suspended for violating baseball's drug policy. He returned to bat .278 in July and .301 in August before going into a September slump.

A big turning point was a July 22 game against Cincinnati when he was hit on the wrist by a pitch from Homer Bailey. Despite hitting for average over the next month, Ramirez struggled with pitches on the inner half of the plate the remainder of the season.

The Dodgers have made the playoffs in both years Ramirez was on the team.

"I know he wasn't happy with the way things went on here [last season] and the way he struggled," Torre said. "He was determined to get that thing straightened out. He watched a lot of video, did some work this winter and feels pretty good about where he is now."

Torre isn't about to buy into the idea that Ramirez won't play after 2010.

"I think it will depend on whether it continues to be fun for him," Torre said. "I'm sure there are things he wants to accomplish statistically. And just knowing Manny over the last 15 years or so, if it's not fun for him, he will have trouble going out there doing it as a job. But I'd like to believe he will play longer than this year."

On the subject of this probably being his final season in a Dodgers uniform, Ramirez continued to gush about the season and a half he has spent in Los Angeles.

"That has been great," he said. "I wish I could have been there a long time ago."

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Tony Jackson

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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