GOODYEAR, Ariz. –- Bob Melvin has more than penciled Manny Ramirez back into the Dodgers lineup.
"Semi-penned in," the Diamondbacks manager said Thursday, seemingly without any sense of dread.
You'd think the Manny saga would interest the Diamondbacks, almost as much as it interests the Dodgers. A Dodgers team with Manny beat Arizona for the National League West title last year; a Dodgers team without him would have a lot less chance of keeping the Diamondbacks out of the playoffs this season.
|Manny Ramirez hit .626 against Arizona last year with five HRs and 12 RBI in nine games. (Getty Images)|
"I'm just assuming he's on the Dodgers," starting pitcher Dan Haren said. "The least of my worries right now is Manny Ramirez. I'm just expecting him to be on the Dodgers."
Ramirez went 3-for-6 with a home run against Haren last year, which was pretty much what he did against every Diamondbacks pitcher. In nine games against Arizona after his midseason trade to the Dodgers, Ramirez was 20-for-32 (.626), with five home runs and 12 RBI. He went 8-for-10 with four walks and two home runs in one three-game series at Chase Field.
The Dodgers went 7-2 in those nine games, and they finished the season just two games ahead of Arizona in the NL West standings.
The Dodgers trailed the Diamondbacks by two games when Ramirez joined them. With him, they turned that around.
Did Manny make a difference? You do the math.
"There's no denying he had a very significant impact on their club, and on the division," Diamondbacks first baseman Tony Clark said.
So is Clark following every turn of the negotiations? Not exactly.
"I would just assume it's a foregone conclusion he goes to the Dodgers," Clark said. "It doesn't change our focus."
And that focus isn't on Manny Ramirez, Ned Colletti, Frank McCourt or anyone else who is or soon should be wearing Dodger blue.
"You can't miss it," Chris Young said. "It's on TV all the time. We know the Dodgers have a good ballclub, that's no secret. But the Diamondbacks have a good ballclub, too."
"Yeah, having Manny on a team will make that team better. But either way, I still like our chances."
They say they're not worried. They say they're not concerned.
They even say they're trying not to notice.
Most of all, the Diamondbacks assume that someday, it's going to happen. They'll wake up, and Manny Ramirez will be a Dodger.
It's already in semi-pen.