Manny has 'paid the penalty,' exec says
Jamie McCourt, in Israel for the 18th Maccabiah Games, said Monday she was as surprised as anyone when Ramirez was suspended. He recently returned from a 50-game suspension.
"Not everyone is perfect and I am not going to judge what anyone does in their lives," McCourt said. "But he has paid the penalty and it is now up to us to welcome him back to the team. It is up to the fans to decide how he is embraced and so far they have been supportive."
McCourt was vice chairman and president of the Dodgers before she was named CEO in March by her husband, Dodgers owner Frank McCourt.
The McCourts purchased the Dodgers in 2004 for $430 million.
McCourt has been to Israel several times, including spending a semester at Hebrew University law school in Jerusalem. Her current visit is to mark the opening of the Maccabiah Games, which she sponsors.
Also known as the "Jewish Olympics," the games are an international competition for Jewish athletes held every four years in Israel. More than 900 American athletes will compete in this year's games, officials said, making it the second-largest delegation behind Israel. The 10-day competition begins Monday.
This year baseball will be played for the first time and McCourt will kick off the tournament by throwing out the opening pitch before Tuesday's games.
McCourt said she has become close with several Dodger greats, including Sandy Koufax, who is also Jewish.
"Sandy has become a close personal friend and a brother to me," she said.
McCourt said she has also connected to the young players on the team, many of whom are about the same age as her children. McCourt's son, Gavin, was drafted last month by the Boston Red Sox.
And what about Ramirez?
"Manny is Manny," she said. "He goes about his business and he works hard to be good at what he does. From a work ethic perspective and how he prepares for a game he is a good addition to the team and an example" for the younger players.
She added that the Dodgers' success during his absence proved that the team was more than a one-man show. She believes they have what it takes to win the World Series this season.
"I think that this is a team that has it all, between the manager, a great GM, an incredible clubhouse and great veterans," McCourt said. "Everyone is on the same page."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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MANNY RAMIREZ RETURNS
Dodgers slugger Manny Ramirez returned from his 50-game suspension Friday in San Diego.