Tight Hammy Scratches Ramirez From First Star

With a solid crowd of over 8,000 at CBR park, most of whom weren't on hand to see the Korean WBC team but hoping to get a first glimpse of outfielder Ramirez in action, a tight hamstring just before game time cancelled his first start of the season

. Although Ramirez asked to be in the lineup, the request was vetoed by manager Joe Torre but he is expected to appear as a designated hitter today (Friday) against the Texas Rangers. "He wanted to play today, and I didn't think there was much sense in doing that," Torre said after the Dodgers' 4-2 victory over South Korea.

Ramirez reported he felt the hamstring tighten up as he ran a baserunning drill before batting practice Thursday morning.

Ramirez has been embraced by the Dodgers, despite bitter criticism that still spews out of Fenway Park in Boston, angry words that Manny chooses to overlook.

Ramirez agreed last week to a $45 million, two-year contract and the Dodgers treated Ramirez like a returning hero, cheering his every move in pre-game practice and during batting practice.

Ramirez saved the Dodgers season by leading them to the 2008 NL West title. He hit a stunning .396 (missing the magic .400 mark on the final day in a meaningless game with the Giants). He had 17 homers and 53 RBIs in 53 regular-season games.

Then he was even better in the playoffs, battering the ball for a .520 average with four homers, 10 RBIs, nine runs and 11 walks in eight games.

"Since he's been here, he's been fine with me," Torre said in response a question about Red Sox's player comments. "People certainly have their opinions. They're entitled to them. But that stuff doesn't move me one way or the other."

Ramirez said he would be ready for opening day.

"I think we have time," he told MLB.com, looking at the schedule that shows some 19 games left in the spring season.

Ramirez reported he needed between 40 and 50 at-bats before opening day. "I need the whole spring training," Ramirez said. "Everybody needs it just to go and get ready at the plate and get ready in the outfield."