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Manny Ramirez's Surreal Rehab Assignment

Manny Ramirez is set to play baseball for the first time since being punished for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug tonight. Ramirez last played on May 6 and is not eligible to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers until July 3. So how is Ramirez taking the field? Well, he'll be playing for the Albuquerque Isotopes - the Dodgers' Class AAA affiliate in the Pacific Coast League.

Ramirez is considered to be on a rehab assignment and somehow playing in the minor leagues does not violate the 50-game suspension leveled out by Major League Baseball. Of course one question is, what exactly is Ramirez rehabbing from? He's been out of the Los Angeles lineup because he was punished, not due to injury.

It's also worth noting that this isn't unprecedented. Philadelphia Phillies reliever J.C. Romero also did a brief stint in the minors in preparation for his return to the majors, as is pointed out by L.A. Times blogger Jon Weisman.

Obviously the point of this assignment is for the player (in this case Ramirez) to get back into the flow of playing competitive baseball but I think it'd make more sense for him to be suspended from all levels of professional baseball (not just the majors) for 50 games. If following the full suspension he and the Dodgers decide he needs a brief stint in the minors before facing major league competition, then so be it. As it stands now, a punished player doesn't actually sit for 50 games, per se, though I suppose his pay is still docked.

Regardless, Manny Ramirez will be wearing this jersey while playing for a team that's name is a direct reference to this episode of The Simpsons. Ramirez's planned appearance for the Isotopes has tickets sales going through the roof to see him face the Nashville Sounds (the Class AAA affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers).

The hype is being further pushed by ESPN as ESPNews plans to break into its regular coverage to show each of Manny Ramirez's at-bats. This begs the question of "who cares?" since it's a minor league appearance for a player that's rehabbing from suspension when in fact he'll be playing for the Dodgers in a little over a week.

Add in the fact that Ramirez is still sixth in all-star voting for NL outfielders and well, this all seems strange to me. I guess this is just one of those things that has me channeling my inner Mugatu: "I feel like I'm taking crazy pills."

By CJ Holley  |  June 23, 2009; 11:58 AM ET
Categories:  Dodgers  | Tags: PEDs, albuquerque isotopes, los angeles dodgers, manny ramirez, minor league baseball, performance enhancing drugs, steroids  
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Next: Talking Behind Their Back: Phillies


Good point about the suspension at all levels. What's with the ESPN coverage of his MiLB at-bats? Maybe because they cover primarily Sox-Yankees and he still has a bit of Sox cachet (in their line of thinking, that is)?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 23, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

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