This was more like a feast than a spoonful of gravy.
Only hours after Manny Ramirez shrugged off the worst funk of his Dodgers tenure by saying he's reached the point in his career where "everything is gravy," the slugger homered and drove in three runs Tuesday night against the Milwaukee Brewers.
The left fielder began the game hitting .167 with no runs batted in in his previous 10 games. But the only numbers that mattered to him, Ramirez said before the game, are the ones he has posted over his 17-year career.
"I'm one of the best hitters out there, so why should I worry?" said Ramirez, whose 539 homers rank 15th on baseball's all-time list. "We've got two more months and if not, I'll come back next season and try again. I've got nothing to prove.
"I've already accomplished a lot. So I just go play the game and move on. I don't have to put it in my mind to try to do a lot because how many more years can I play? Three? Four? Who knows?
"Maybe you worry too much when you're young and you're trying to get that big contract and you're trying to have a good year and do this and do that.
"Now, in my career, everything is gravy."
Not that Ramirez doesn't want to excel.
"Everybody wants to be good," he said. "Everybody wants to step to home plate and make it happen. . . . But I'm not going to worry about my numbers anymore."
Ramirez conceded he was swinging at bad pitches recently but said the bruised left hand he suffered late last month was not bothering him. Manager Joe Torre said he thought Ramirez had lost "a little of his patience lately."
But with the Dodgers comfortably in first place in the National League West, Ramirez predicted things would be different in October.
"I'm pretty sure I'll be ready because in the playoffs it's my time," he said, laughing.
Dodgers spokesman Josh Rawitch acknowledged that only the first 50,000 fans among the 56,000 who attended the first Ramirez bobblehead giveaway on July 22 were promised dolls. Several fans e-mailed The Times to say they went home empty-handed.
But Rawitch said the team ordered more than 50,000 bobbleheads to make sure there weren't "a lot of fans missing out on getting the item." Rawitch said spectators who went to the fan services desk the night of the promotion and provided their address were later shipped a bobblehead.
The team is now selling an undisclosed number of the original dolls with a second Ramirez bobblehead as part of a four-game ticket package that includes the Sept. 16 game against Pittsburgh in which the new bobblehead will be distributed to the first 50,000 fans.
In the first of two minor league rehabilitation appearances before he is scheduled to rejoin the Dodgers, reliever Ronald Belisario needed only 11 pitches to get through a scoreless inning for Class-A Inland Empire. Belisario, recovering from a strained right elbow, threw eight of his pitches for strikes and recorded one strikeout. . . . Ramirez shouldn't feel bad about his inability to connect for his second grand slam in 11 days when he faced Trevor Hoffman on Monday. According to ESPN Stats and Information, the Milwaukee closer had faced 134 batters in his career with the bases loaded and allowed no grand slams. . . . Reminded that the Dodgers' championship teams of the 1960s had an established ace in Sandy Koufax and that the World Series teams of the 1980s had starters Fernando Valenzuela and Orel Hershiser, Torre said, "I called those guys and they're not available."