Dodgers coaches at the ready in Manny Ramirez’s absence


Manny Ramirez touched base with the heads of the Dodgers organization Saturday, having his first conversations with owner Frank McCourt and General Manager Ned Colletti since being handed a 50-game suspension for violating baseball’s drug policy.

McCourt is said to be furious with Ramirez and was demanding that the All-Star outfielder call him, according to sources familiar with the situation who weren’t authorized to discuss the matter.

Among McCourt’s other demands is that Ramirez address his teammates. One source said that is “unlikely” to happen today when the Dodgers conclude an 11-game homestand, but “might” take place during the six-game trip that starts Tuesday in Philadelphia. A possibility exists that Ramirez could face the team on the second half of the trip, in his off-season hometown of Miami.


What was clear on Saturday was that the issue of Ramirez’s speaking to his teammates was more important to McCourt than it was to Dodgers Manager Joe Torre.

“I don’t think addressing the team is necessary,” Torre said. “I think it is important that the players get a chance to say something. I don’t think we need anything formal.”

Torre said he spoke to Ramirez’s agent, Scott Boras, and was under the impression that Ramirez remained uncertain of what his next course of action will be.

Colletti acknowledged that he spoke with Ramirez on Saturday morning but declined to say what they talked about or to share his thoughts on Ramirez’s state of mind.

“We had a good conversation,” Colletti said.


Keeping tabs

The coaching staff will monitor the Dodgers’ on-field performance more closely in the aftermath of Ramirez’s suspension, but no major changes are planned, third base coach Larry Bowa said.

“You go about the same approach” with the players despite having to fill the void caused by Ramirez’s 50-game absence, Bowa said.


“If you do anything really different, they’re going to know about it,” he said. “But if you see somebody struggling or something, you talk to them a little bit.”

Torre’s experience with turbulent situations during his 12-year tenure as New York Yankees manager also should help stabilize the Dodgers, Bowa said.

“Joe’s biggest asset is having handled situations like this; he went through a ton of them in New York,” Bowa said.


Trying hard

Shortstop Rafael Furcal might be pressing a bit in the batter’s box, Torre said.

“He’s frustrated with himself,” Torre said of the switch-hitting leadoff batter, who is batting .250 and took a scheduled day off Saturday. Juan Castro replaced him at shortstop.

Furcal missed most of last season because of a back injury, but has said he’s physically in good shape.

But with “every aspect of his game right now, he’s probably trying to overdo it,” Torre said. “But I think he’s fine. He’s still aggressive.”


New broadcast

The Dodgers plan a May 20 debut for their DodgersWIN broadcast, part of the team’s Women’s Initiatives Network effort to bring women closer to the game.

The broadcast provides a free live audio feed of the game that night against the New York Mets at Dodger Stadium via, and is scheduled to be available for each Wednesday home game.

Former Fox baseball anchor Jeanne Zelasko will handle the play-by-play and former Dodger Mark Sweeney will provide analysis.