Thursday, May 7, 2009

Dodgers' Ramirez suspended

     The startling announcement that baseball has suspended Dodgers' outfielder Manny Ramirez 50 games for testing positive for a banned substance puts the brakes on the  team's early-season good fortunes. The ball club was off to a record-breaking start, winning 13 straight home games without a loss while compiling the best record in baseball. Ramirez is batting .348 with 6 home runs and was second  behind teammate  Andre Ethier in RBIs. 
     The big questions are: where do the Dodgers go from here? When was Ramirez tested and when did league and club officials know the results? And, more importantly, what affect will Ramirez's absence have on the team and the rest of the National League? The answers are already coming and things may not be as bad as they would appear.
     The Dodgers have brought up Xavier Paul to replace Ramirez on the roster. Paul got an extensive look by Manager Joe Torre and the coaching staff during spring training. He is a young outfielder and a hot prospect. Also, keeping Juan Pierre instead of trading him has turned out to be a blessing. Did the Dodgers know during spring training that Ramirez had tested positive? Was there any connection between the drug test and Ramirez's contract squabble with team during the spring?
      As for the team itself, if the Dodgers play .500 baseball until Ramirez's return on July 3, it will have a record of 46-33, which should be good enough to keep them in first place in the NL West.  Ramirez's absence is expected to hurt opposing club's attendance when the Dodgers go on the road. During the team's visits to San Francisco, San Diego and Arizona, fans were coming to the ballpark in large numbers to boo Ramirez and chant "Beat L.A." We'll see if the Dodgers' rivals are as boisterous and in attendance without the slugger in left field.


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