"It has nothing to do with all the gossip and all the waiver stuff," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "That has nothing to do with this."
Ramirez did make a brief appearance in Saturday's 5-3 loss to the Rockies. He pinch-hit for Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley in the seventh inning, Ramirez struck out swinging on a full count against Rockies starter Jhoulys Chacin.
Ramirez hadn't played since Wednesday night at Milwaukee, when he went 2-for-2 with two doubles and two walks. More notably, he hadn't played since the Chicago White Sox secured a waiver claim on him Friday, giving the Dodgers until Tuesday to work out a possible trade with the White Sox, something that appears less likely with each Dodgers victory.
The reason Torre gave for not starting Ramirez on Friday night was Ubaldo Jimenez pitching for the Rockies. Ramirez is 1-for-13 in his career against him.
But Ramirez had had only four career at-bats (one hit) against Chacin before Saturday. Torre said a big reason Ramirez didn't return to the lineup was the unusually spacious outfield in Colorado.
Scott Podsednik, who is faster and more mobile than Ramirez, started in left for the third consecutive game. He went 5-for-10 from the leadoff spot, scoring three runs, on Thursday at Milwaukee and Friday at Colorado. He was 0-for-3 with a walk Saturday night versus the Rockies.
Torre said he talked with Ramirez and a loose schedule will be worked out between the two of them on when Ramirez will play going forward -- assuming he stays with the Dodgers. However, Torre said it doesn't mean Ramirez has been reduced to a backup outfielder. He said Ramirez is still an everyday player.
"[But] every day when you're 38 doesn't mean every day," Torre said. "A regular player at that age isn't in there every day, especially if you're an outfielder."
So when does he expect Ramirez to start?
"We're going to sit down and map that out," Torre said. "One thing we want to do is make sure we're able to keep him on the field."
So, apparently, the best way to keep Ramirez on the field is to keep him off it.
The easy suspicion to jump to is the Dodgers are keeping Ramirez out of harm's way so he doesn't get hurt and jeopardize a trade agreement that is already in place with the White Sox. The reason that trade hasn't been announced? The Dodgers could be waiting until the last minute, in hopes of maximizing what they get in return for Ramirez. The team is likely looking for minor league prospects and the White Sox to pay a percentage of the approximately $4.3 million Ramirez is still owed.
But Torre insists that's not the case.
"It would be easy for me to plug Manny in and not have to answer any questions about it," Torre said. "But that isn't my job."
Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti deferred to Torre on Ramirez's playing time. Colletti said he isn't sure if the team will keep Ramirez for the rest of the season or trade him.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.