Scratch a pair of right-handed bats off Dodgers’ radar for left field: Reed Johnson and ... Manny Ramirez
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A right-handed bat to play in left field remains the great void in the Dodgers’ starting lineup -- OK, other than adding an impact bat -- but you can scratch a pair of familiar names off their free-agent list.
Reed Johnson signed with the Cubs on Wednesday, and Manager Don Mattingly said Manny Ramirez was not a viable option. Sorry, dreadlocks lovers.
Johnson was a reserve outfielder for the Dodgers last season, appearing in 102 games but having a marginal impact on their season. In 202 at-bats, he hit .262 with 24 runs, 15 runs batted in and a disappointing, career-low .291 on-base percentage.
Before joining the Dodgers, Johnson, 34, spent the previous two seasons with the Cubs and was something of a fan favorite.
He signed a minor league deal with the Cubs that does not include any guaranteed money. He is expected to compete with Fernando Perez, whom the Cubs recently acquired from Tampa Bay, for Chicago’s reserve outfield position.
At a camp workout for a select group of minor leaguers at Dodger Stadium, Mattingly put an end to any hopes that the Dodgers might re-sign Manny to fill the hole in left.
When first asked about the possibility of signing Manny, Mattingly said: ‘Do I have to answer that?’
Pushed ever so gently, Mattingly said: ‘I don’t think Manny is a viable option right now.’
Manny was released by the Dodgers and claimed on waivers by the Chicago White Sox on Aug. 30.
He remains unsigned and is looking for a job as a designated hitter. He was never a strong defensive outfielder, but last season he struggled with leg injuries and had three stints on the disabled list.
If his power waned at age 38, he could still drive the ball. He hit .311 with eight home runs, 40 RBIs, a .405 on-base percentage and a .510 slugging percentage in 196 at-bats as a Dodger. With the White Sox, however, he seriously bombed (one home run, two RBIs in 69 at-bats).
Mattingly said he if started spring training today, he would look at Jay Gibbons and Xavier Paul (both left-handed hitters) in left field, with the possibility of giving right-handed third baseman Casey Blake some time there.
-- Steve Dilbeck