Ramirez puts past in Boston behind

LOS ANGELES --- Manny Ramirez showed up at Dodger Stadium with a new attitude, a new number and a willingness to cut his flowing dreadlocks.


"I feel great, man. I'm happy," Ramirez told some 200 media members behind home plate about 3 hours before making his debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night. "Whatever happened in Boston is in the past. I'm excited, man. I can't wait. I feel like I took 5,000 pounds off my back."

The Dodgers acquired the future Hall of Famer from the exasperated Red Sox a day earlier, giving up two minor leaguers in a shocking three-team trade that sent outfielder Jason Bay from Pittsburgh to Boston.

Ramirez said he spoke with former teammates David Ortiz and Julio Lugo after the trade was announced and harbored no bitterness toward the Red Sox.

"I want to say something from the bottom of my heart," Ramirez said. "I want to thank the fans in Boston. I love you guys. I just want to move on. I'm thinking Blue right now, I'm thinking about the Dodgers. I want people to judge me on what I do here, not what I did in Boston."

Ramirez played with the Cleveland Indians from 1993-2000 before signing an eight-year, $160 million deal with the Red Sox.

When asked what changes he might make, Ramirez laughed and replied: "I'm going to start maybe stealing some bases. I don't go deep anymore. I just hit line drives to right field."

Ramirez has one stolen base this season -- his first since 2005.

The 36-year-old Ramirez, among baseball's career leaders in several categories, answered questions in English and Spanish before ending the availability after fewer than 15 minutes.

Manager Joe Torre, whose Yankees teams went against Ramirez countless times, put the eccentric slugger in his customary left field and cleanup spot against Arizona's Randy Johnson.

Ramirez, who wore No. 24 in Boston, will wear No. 99 in Los Angeles. Hall of Fame manager Walter Alston wore No. 24 with the Dodgers, and that jersey is retired.

"I don't know why they gave me 99," he said. "I wanted 34."

No. 34, worn by Fernando Valenzuela in the 1980s, isn't officially retired, but clubhouse manager Mitch Poole said: "In our hearts, it is, and in the Mexican community."

Torre said he asked Ramirez how important his hair was to him and was told he'd do whatever the manager wanted. Torre said he asked Ramirez to "clean it up a little bit and make it manageable."

"I've got to cut it. I'm going to be looking like a baby," Ramirez said with a smile.



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