- Tony Jackson, ESPNLosAngeles.com
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DENVER -- The Manny Ramirez saga took another strange turn in the sixth inning on Sunday when the Los Angeles Dodgers left fielder, who hasn't started any of the team's past four games, was sent to pinch hit and was promptly ejected from the game after one pitch.
With the Dodgers trailing the Colorado Rockies 8-2, Ramirez took the first pitch from reliever Matt Reynolds, which appeared to be an inch or two off the outside corner. But when plate umpire and crew chief Gary Cederstrom called it a strike, Ramirez immediately stepped out of the batter's box and began to protest to Cederstrom.
Ramirez continued to talk for about five seconds before Cederstrom threw him out of the game, ending what might have been Ramirez's final appearance with the Dodgers.
The Chicago White Sox secured a waiver claim on Ramirez last Friday, and the Dodgers have until Tuesday to work out a trade between the two clubs. Manager Joe Torre said before the game that his plan was for Ramirez to return to the starting lineup on Monday night against the Philadelphia Phillies. But given the Dodgers' small hopes of reaching the playoffs, Ramirez's all-too-quick ejection might force the issue where a trade with the White Sox is concerned.
Addressing Ramirez's fourth-straight benching before Sunday's game, Torre said Ramirez was "tentatively scheduled to start tomorrow. That is my thinking at this point in time."
Torre's rationale for sitting Ramirez Saturday -- not wanting the aging hitter to have to cover the vast left-field acreage at Coors Field -- carried over to Sunday.
"It's still a big outfield," Torre said.
The White Sox's claim on Ramirez means the Dodgers can't trade him to any other club. Torre and general manager Ned Colletti have steadfastly declined to discuss specifics, such as whether the particulars of a trade have been agreed upon between the two clubs.
Ramirez hasn't started a game since Wednesday night at Milwaukee, when he went 2 for 2 with two doubles and two walks, and his only pinch-hitting appearance since then came Saturday night, when he struck out to end the seventh inning.
Ramirez's extended absence from the lineup could be an indication the Dodgers don't want to jeopardize a potential deal with the White Sox by exposing Ramirez to the possibility of an injury. Ramirez already has been on the disabled list three times this season, all with injuries to his right leg.
However, Torre said Colletti hasn't specifically instructed, requested or otherwise tried to steer him toward excluding Ramirez from the starting lineup.
"As far as the lineup and putting it together, no," Torre said. "I'm not saying we don't talk about players. But I have never had anybody tell me who to play."
Scott Podsednik started in left field Sunday for the fourth consecutive game. In the first three of those games, the speedy Podsednik batted leadoff and was on base six times in 14 plate appearances, scoring three runs.
"Podsednik is an interesting player for me just from the fact that when he is on base, a lot of things can happen,'' Torre said, adding that Podsednik "brings a different dimension to this team, and it has worked for us."
However, Torre said on Saturday that if Ramirez stays with the club, he would not be relegated to backup outfielder status.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.