LOS ANGELES Manny Ramirez appears to be a week away from beginning a minor league assignment as he nears the end of his 50-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's substance abuse policy.
Manager Joe Torre said Wednesday that Ramirez would start out playing for Class A Inland Empire next Thursday. The 66ers begin a three-game series at Lake Elsinore that day before playing their next three at home against Rancho Cucamonga, making it convenient for Ramirez to drive from his home in Pasadena.
Ramirez is eligible to begin his assignment next Tuesday, but there are no games in the California League until Thursday because of their All-Star break. He is eligible to be reinstated on July 3, when the Dodgers are in San Diego.