Manny lifts Dodgers with bat, glove
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It was an afternoon of firsts for a certain dreadlocked Los Angeles Dodgers left fielder, who is beginning to look like the Manny Ramirez of old in a spring training that is about to enter its homestretch.
Los Angeles Dodgers
For starters, Ramirez slammed his first home run of the spring, a frozen rope off the Chicago Cubs' Ryan Dempster in the first inning that landed at the top of the berm in left-center field. It gave the Dodgers an early lead in what became a 7-3 victory before an all-time Cactus League record 13,391 at the Ballpark.
"He got three hits his last game over there in Taiwan,'' Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "Timing-wise, he is fine. He is hitting line drives, and he is much more balanced than he was last year. I'm not really concerned about his ability to hit right now. He has worked on some stuff, and he feels pretty good about it.''
Meanwhile, in the first game this spring in which he has played his defensive position -- he had been a designated hitter in five previous Cactus League games and two additional games in Taiwan -- he also made his first highlight-reel catch of the spring, a leaping grab in front of the wall in the fourth inning to rob Cubs center fielder Tyler Colvin of a double.
"I just saw it on replay, because I was blocked out,'' Torre said. "Manny can catch the ball. If Manny gets near it, he is going to catch it. He will play [left field] again tomorrow night. I just want to make sure he gets his legs under him.''
The Dodgers play their first two night games of the spring on Friday and Saturday against San Diego -- with a split-squad afternoon game against Texas wedged in between on Saturday -- and Torre said Ramirez will play both of the night games.Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.