Adversity won't deter veteran Dodgers
Club set to buckle down in absence of suspended Manny
LOS ANGELES -- As pundits ponder Manny Ramirez's drug suspension and the potential fallout, his club doesn't have time for any of that.
"Manny's talent in the middle of the lineup is pretty awesome, but you don't have it so you don't sit around and wish you did," said manager Joe Torre. "I lost David Cone in 1996 [to an aneurysm]. We wanted him in the starting rotation, but he couldn't be there. We have to treat this like an injury where he's gone for a period of time and we have to hold our own until he gets back."
From a pragmatic standpoint, that's pretty much the unanimous opinion in the clubhouse. You're either there, or you aren't. Ramirez's suspension isn't even the worst handed down to a Los Angeles Dodger. Closer Steve Howe was suspended for the entire 1984 season for cocaine use.
"The result is the same as an injury," said veteran Mark Loretta. "I remember with Milwaukee, we lost players we were counting on -- Jeromy Burnitz, Ben McDonald, Phil Nevin. Manny is one of the best -- if not the best -- hitters, but he's not available. Just about every team goes through periods when one of the key contributors is out."
Brad Ausmus, the most experienced player on the club, remembers a similar situation in 2003, when the Astros lost ace starter Roy Oswalt for two months to a groin pull. Oswalt won 10 games that year, nine fewer than the year before and 10 fewer than the next year.
"Everyone in baseball has to look at it like an injury," Ausmus said. "Regardless of how it happened, you look at it the same way mentally. He's not here and we can't dwell on it. We have to move on without him until he returns. So there's really nothing to talk about. Talking about it won't make it any better. We're already dealing with it. Nobody needs any more information about it. He's gone for 50 games."
Ausmus said the drop in media presence -- of maybe 75 percent from Thursday to Friday -- supports his case.
Torre, who said he was "exhausted" after Thursday's press conference and loss to the Nationals, wasn't so sure.
"I'm not sure it has sunk in yet," Torre said. "We're so used to seeing him. But it could have been an injury that knocked him out. The reality is, we have to force ourselves to move on. We'll certainly miss him, but we can' t live there. It will be a distraction, but eventually it will fade away."
Veteran infielder Casey Blake summed up that attitude after Thursday night's loss.
"I don't see or don't feel any impact at all," Blake said when asked about Ramirez's absence. "Like we've said before, are we better with him? Yes, we are. We are still very, very good without him. What are we going to do? Hang it up? Shut it down the rest of the year? No.
"We're competitors, this is our job and we take it seriously. I've got faith in everyone in here. You have to overcome adversity in life and at work."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.