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Torre on Manny Ramirez as an All-Star: ‘It probably isn’t the right thing’

Dodgers owner Frank McCourt might want Manny Ramirez to play in the All-Star game, but Manager Joe Torre made it clear on Friday that he doesn’t.

“No,” Torre said when asked if he would like to see Ramirez in St. Louis on July 14. “I think if you asked Manny, he’d give you the same answer.”

Ramirez, who is serving a 50-game suspension for violating baseball’s drug policy, was fourth among National League outfielders when the league released the balloting results so far. Voting ends July 2, and the top three will start.

“I understand a lot of it is a popularity contest,” Torre said. “To me, I think, the significance of the All-Star game is to reward players who had a good first half. We don’t always do that because it’s a popularity vote, for the most part.

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“I think Manny’s popularity is why he’s gotten the votes. I think realistically, he didn’t earn, other than from his reputation, to be, this year, in the All-Star game. It probably isn’t the right thing for him to be in it this year.”

McCourt offered a different opinion the previous day when he said, “Do I want to see him? Sure, if he gets voted in. It’d be a great honor.”

Torre said he wanted to see deserving up-and-coming players such as Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria be recognized with All-Star bids.

Torre, who will be a coach for the NL team, also campaigned on behalf of four of his players: Orlando Hudson, Casey Blake, Chad Billingsley and Jonathan Broxton.

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Kuroda set to return

Hiroki Kuroda is finally ready to pitch again.

Kuroda will be activated Monday to face the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium, according to Torre.

Monday happens to be the eight-week anniversary of his opening-day start in San Diego, his first and only start of the season.

Of the left-side muscle that Kuroda strained during a bullpen session on April 8, Torre said, “It’s nonexistent so it’s good news for us.”

Billingsley said he had a similar injury in 2006 and called it “a tough one.”

“Sometimes you’re a little hesitant,” he said.

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Kuroda has pitched in two minor league games as part of a rehabilitation assignment. He was roughed up in his most recent one, surrendering seven runs (five earned) in five innings in an outing with Class-A Inland Empire.

Kuroda will replace either Eric Stults or Eric Milton in the rotation. He’ll take the roster spot of third-string catcher A.J. Ellis, who was called up from triple-A Albuquerque on Friday.

Clayton Kershaw, who was originally scheduled to start Monday, will be pushed back in the rotation. If Kershaw pitches in relief Monday, his next start will be Thursday. If he doesn’t, he’ll pitch Friday.

Randy Wolf will start Tuesday and Billingsley on Wednesday.

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Playing small ball

Matt Kemp’s home run Friday was the Dodgers’ first of this trip.

Torre said he was encouraged by how the Dodgers had swept Colorado and beaten Chicago on Thursday without a single long ball.

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“That’s great for me because that’s all we talk about,” Torre said. “Think small, big things will happen.”

The Dodgers have been far less reliant on home runs since Ramirez was suspended on May 7. The Dodgers hit 24 home runs in 29 games with Ramirez; they’ve hit only 11 in their 21 games without him.

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dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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DODGERS TODAY

AT CHICAGO

When: 1 p.m. PDT.

Where: Wrigley Field.

On the air: TV: Channel 11; Radio: 790, 930.

Pitchers: Eric Stults vs. Ryan Dempster.

Update: Stults’ place in the Dodgers’ rotation could be on the line. Hiroki Kuroda is due back Monday and will replace either Stults or Eric Milton as a starter. Stults has been battling a sprained thumb on his pitching hand. He said it wasn’t a factor on Monday in Colorado, where he walked seven batters in only 4 1/3 innings. Dempster is also coming off a rough start. He pitched a season-low four innings Monday against Pittsburgh and was charged with a season-high six runs.

-- Dylan Hernandez


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