In a sorry season, Jones is sorry for things he said

ST. LOUIS -- Ah, just like the good old days with Kobe taking all the shots, everyone else a bum and the Lakers losing.

Welcome to Manny Mania, Ramirez 12 for 20 overall, another home run, single, two runs batted in, and the Dodgers get beat for the third time in the five games since his arrival.

Manny Ramirez is going to need help if the Dodgers are going to advance, someone with more stuff than Derek Lowe, and dare I mention the possible rejuvenation of Andruw Jones?

Crazy talk, but then something very interesting has happened since Ramirez's arrival -- he appears to be rubbing off on Jones, who finally appears at ease.

"They're stuck together like glue," says Manager Joe Torre, Jones laughing it up with Ramirez and then hitting a monster home run the other night.

Just as surprising, there was a relaxed Jones speaking before Wednesday's game, apologizing to Dodgers fans for things said, and pledging to still win them over.

Opposites attract, of course, so no wonder Ramirez and Jones get along so well. Ramirez can hit, and Jones cannot.

Jones can catch with his Gold Gloves, while Ramirez would make a great DH.

Jones gets booed every time he makes an appearance in Dodger Stadium, while Manny Mania needs less than 72 hours to take root.

"Every day I'm still nervous," Ramirez says, "being part of a different family and trying to fit in."

They're different, all right, Jones probably just as nervous as Ramirez when he came to the Dodgers, but acting aloof and disengaged from the paying customers.

From the start, "I don't care" were his three favorite words. He didn't care what the fans thought, didn't care what anyone had to say -- smirking after each strikeout.

"I wish I could start everything over," Jones says. "I apologize for the things I said about the fans; I didn't mean it the way it sounded.

"I care about playing well for Dodger fans, but now I have to be strong to overcome everything that has happened.

"It's tough mentally every time you go out there and they let you know how they feel, and you look at the scoreboard and see your batting average. I'd like to just go away for a few months, work hard and start over, but I can't do that. I need to do everything I can to still help this team."

No one, including Kwame Brown, has taken a public L.A. beating like Jones in some time, but to his credit he has never turned nasty or become sullen and unapproachable like Juan Pierre. It speaks to his character, but a few more home runs would speak louder.

"They brought me here to get the job done and I failed," Jones says. "They brought Manny here to do what I was supposed to do. He's Manny Ramirez and he's danger -- real dangerous."

Ramirez says he's been getting help from Jones on where to position himself in the outfield, and Jones says everyone is better because Ramirez has become a Dodger.

"I want to do the right things," says Jones, who has three home runs -- all on the road. "As much as anything, I want to hit a home run in Dodger Stadium because it's important to let the crowd know that I'm not giving up.

"I wanted to come here and play for the Dodgers, and still want to help these guys win."

Then he grounded out as a pinch-hitter, which means he has not struck out in his last two appearances, Manny Mania getting credit with the miracle.

PIERRE WAS not in the lineup, so I checked to see if he was bellyaching again. "I've got nothing," Pierre said, which pretty much explains why Torre isn't playing him.

JOHN ELWAY goes back to Granada Hills High tonight for the Harold Pump Foundation gala to honor the memory of his twin sister, Jana, who died a few years back from cancer.

The public is invited to the dinner ( doublepump@aol.com), which will raise money for Northridge Hospital, and to talk to Elway, who is old enough to have a son at Arizona State who might play quarterback against USC down the road.

RICHARD LENSE, a volunteer at Mattel Children's Hospital, has been spending time with Masa, a youngster who is waiting for a heart transplant after making the trip from Japan. Lense thought the kid might get a big boost if given the chance to meet Dodgers reliever Takashi Saito.

The youngster not only met Saito on Wednesday, but Saito took him to the hospital patio and played catch with him -- turning in the Dodgers' best performance of the day.

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T.J. Simers can be reached at t.j.simers@latimes.com. To read previous columns by Simers, go to latimes.com/simers.

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