Manny gets off easy in New York

BOB ELLIOTT, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:33 AM ET

NEW YORK -- Maybe it was because the Citi Field crowd of 39,636 are not the same people who came to Shea Stadium.

Or was it because fans were more eager to boo the hometown New York Mets, scoreless for 22 innings, without an extra-base hit since Friday.

Maybe the fans didn't like being told to boo Manny Ramirez by the tabloids or they are tired of the drug epidemic which has tainted baseball.

Whatever, Ramirez's arrival in Flushing didn't make enough noise to wake the ghost of Casey Stengel.

Ramirez had a pair of hits, two strikeouts, knocked in three runs and was ejected in the fifth inning by plate umpire John Hirschbeck.

As for the booing ... no big deal. Chipper Jones gets treated rougher when the Atlanta Braves come here. The Ramirez reception was a tad louder than the one Eric Hinske gets at the Rogers Centre.

Ramirez ended the fifth looking at a called third strike, tossed his bat and helmet to the third base side, took about four steps towards beginning the walk to left and undid his protective elbow pad.

He flipped the pad over his shoulder and it landed a few feet from Hirschbeck who heard the piece land and quickly ejected Ramirez.

Just Manny being Manny.

Manny being all about Manny. As in look at me.

It's all about me.

"I was coming out in the fifth anyway," Ramirez said, "so it wasn't a big deal."

Ramirez received boos when he came to the plate in the first, striking out looking at Mets right-hander Mike Pelfrey's offering. He argued with Hirschbeck and continued to bark from the dugout.

Earlier, a fan down the left-field line held up a sign that read "Welcome Back From Maternity Leave" and young fans passed out 400 copies of an 8-x-10 sign of Ramirez's No. 99 framed by asterisks.

When Ramirez's name was announced in San Diego, fans stood and cheered for almost two minutes due to the Dodger fans.

In New York last night, Ramirez blooped a broken-bat single over shortstop to knock in a pair of runs in the second and singled to right knocking in another run in the fourth. The latter chased Pelfrey from the game with the Dodgers up 5-0 on the way to an 8-0 win.

Ramirez had walked into the Dodgers' clubhouse to see reporters waiting, folded his arms as if posing for a picture said "Most wanted, most wanted."

After counting reporters he headed for his locker, sat down and asked "Anybody have any questions about the game? We'll talk about the game."

What followed was playful banter.

Asked about growing up in nearby Washington Heights, Ramirez declined to discuss.

Someone asked him about his game?

"Feels good. Feels good. Feels great."

How about your first home run in San Diego?

"Feels good. Feels great."

Why not talk about your suspension?

"Cause, that's in the past," Ramirez said sounding like Mark McGwire. "Next.''

What about the Hall of Fame? Will the suspension hurt your chances?

"I'll think about that in the past," said Ramirez who realized his mistake, laughed and added "in the future ... I'm going to think about that."

The suspension cost him $7.72 million on his $25 million salary.

Booing does not bother Ramirez who was treated worse across town at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx when he was wearing a Boston Red Sox uniform.

Ramirez basically quit on the Red Sox a year ago, refusing to play, refusing to run out ground balls since he was unhappy Boston would not give him a long-term deal.

EVOLVED

What evolved was a three-team deal in which Ramirez went to the Dodgers, prospects from the Red Sox and the Dodgers wound up with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

And the Red Sox wound up with Jason Bay.

All Bay has done is hit .261 with 19 homers and 70 RBIs, tops in the American League, one more than Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins, going into last night.

The urine sample Ramirez gave in the spring showed abnormal testosterone and officials discovered a prescription for hCG, a female fertility drug banned by baseball because it is used to restore natural testosterone levels after a cycle of steroids.

With Ramirez back the Dodgers are the favourite to reach the World Series ... as long as Ramirez doesn't become pregnant.


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