MLB: Manny goes silent on final night in Albuquerque
AP Sports Writer
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Manny Ramirez went silent.
Then, Manny left the building.
The Los Angeles Dodgers slugger made himself scarce in the clubhouse and didn't talk to reporters as he came out for warmups for his final game with the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes on Thursday night.
Later, with the start of the contest delayed by rain, Ramirez wore street clothes when he walked through a back door of the clubhouse, stepped into a sedan with an associate, Rico Perdomo, and a Dodgers' security official and drove away.
Asked if he would stop for an interview, Ramirez replied: "No, thank you, sir."
Heavy rains hit the ballpark, and the Dodgers made the decision not to suit up Ramirez "due to weather and field conditions." The game against Nashville began almost an hour after the scheduled 7:05 start.
Ramirez kept a low profile after it was disclosed that Major League Baseball is cooperating with a federal investigation into where he got the performance-enhancing drug that resulted in his 50-game suspension.
He had spoken briefly with reporters during his first two days in Albuquerque.
Ramirez was expected to return to California on Friday for four games, beginning Saturday, with the Dodgers' Single-A affiliate at San Bernardino. A Dodgers spokesman said the plan will remain in place "unless we inform you otherwise."
The getaway capped a wacky three days for Ramirez in New Mexico, a taste of Mannywood in the minors.
Shortly before batting practice, the Isotopes closed their clubhouse and asked reporters to leave 15 minutes earlier than scheduled. A spokesman confirmed the request originated with Ramirez.
The Dodgers standout was slated to play seven innings Thursday. For the third day, he initially was listed atop the Isotopes' lineup in left field. He played four innings in each of his first two games.
Albuquerque's players said they'll miss having Ramirez available to talk baseball.
"When a guy has been around that long, had that much success, you want to pick his brain about everything," outfielder Jamie Hoffman said. "If you have a question about how to approach this situation or that situation, you want to know everything."
Ramirez went hitless in three at-bats with a walk for Albuquerque, but Isotopes manager Tim Wallach said the results are less important than just getting the slugger back on the field.
"I think he looks like Manny Ramirez," Wallach said. "I know when it's time to go, when it really counts, he's going to be ready to go. That's what this is leading up to. He doesn't look any different to me."
Ramirez is scheduled to rejoin the Dodgers on July 3 at San Diego.
Isotopes general manager John Traub said efforts to accommodate Ramirez went smoothly. The club increased its usual security plan and took precautions with crowd control, especially with a threat of rain each day.
There also was a slew of media requests and fan interest. A city-record crowd of 15,321 fans turned out Tuesday and 13,076 were on hand Wednesday.
"We were ready," Traub said. "Fortunately, we worked hand in hand with the Dodgers."
As for giving Ramirez the superstar treatment, that wasn't a problem.
"Manny came with no airs whatsoever, no expectations, no entourage," Traub said. "I think it says something that he flew in on a commercial flight. The only direction we got was that Manny wanted to be treated like a regular guy. Nothing special."