Manny's B-a-a-a-c-k, Again!

Manny Ramirez notified the Dodgers "I'm Back -- Again" when his agent Scott Boras, told General Manager Ned Colletti that Ramirez would not exercise the escape clause in his contract that would have let the former All-Star outfielder re-enter the free-agent market at age 37.

Ramirez had until November 10 to inform the Dodgers if he intended to void the second year of a two-year, $45-million contract he signed in the spring -- something that was viewed as highly unlikely in baseball circles because of the kind of year Ramirez had.

Colletti, brushing off the 50 game drug suspension and the fact that Manny was a shadow of his former self when he returned, said he was pleased that Ramirez would be back.

"There was no doubt he had his struggles this past season," he said. "We still feel that he's a very good hitter and maybe with a winter off and a chance to regroup, he can come back with a better frame of mind and his confidence rebuilt."

In the first 27 games of the season, he hit .348 with six home runs and 20 runs batted in. After a 50-game enforced layoff, over the final 77 regular-season games, he hit .269 with 13 home runs and 43 RBIs. He batted .281 with a home run and two RBIs in the Dodgers' eight postseason games.

Boras said Ramirez's two-month midseason layoff was the cause of his late-season slump.

Ramirez had told teammates the grind of playing defense every day was taking a toll on his 37-year-old body and he was tempted to explore teams that might be interested in him as a designated hitter, but Boras had difference thoughts.

"Obviously, he enjoys L.A.," Boras said. "If he went into the marketplace, the real negative was that he could end up playing in a place he wasn't comfortable playing."

Ramirez back, instead of the $20 million he will receive, the Dodgers will probably resume searching for a team to which they could deal outfielder Juan Pierre, who has two years and $18.5 million left on his contract.

Colletti and his top assistants will head to Chicago for the general managers meetings, which start today (Monday).

Meanwhile, five more Dodgers filed for free agency: pitchers Vicente Padilla, Jeff Weaver, Guillermo Mota, catcher Brad Ausmus and pinch-hitter Jim Thome.

The Dodgers apparently have interest mostly in Padilla, and will probably sign the 40-year-old Ausmus if he does not retire.

Padilla was a real boost to the Dodgers down the stretch, going 4-0 with a 3.20 ERA after being released by the Rangers. He also delivered two clutch postseason starts before getting battered when the Dodgers were eliminated in the National League Championship Series.

Weaver, in his second go-around with the Dodgers, was snapped up after spending all of 2008 in the Minor Leagues. He went 6-4 with a 3.65 ERA as a swing man, making seven starts and pitching 79 innings.

Ausmus hit a career-high .295 while backing up Russell Martin.

Mota had a 29-game stretch in which he allowed only one earned run, and went 3-4 with a 3.44 ERA in 61 appearances but then spent the last part of the season on the disabled list with an ingrown toenail.

Thome, acquired as a pinch-hitter was 4-for-17 (.235) with three runs batted in while filling that slot in the lineup.

Previously five other Dodgers had filed for free: pitchers Randy Wolf, Jon Garland and Eric Milton; and All-Star second baseman Orlando Hudson and fellow infielders Ronnie Belliard and Doug Mientkiewicz.

Dodgers still eligible to file for free agency are shortstop Juan Castro, infielder Mark Loretta, left-hander Will Ohman and right-hander Jason Schmidt. Schmidt is expected to retire.

Letter to the Editor
Roy Lieberman forwarded a letter to the editor in the Chicago Sun-Times: To the Editor: We in Chicago would like to congratulate the New York Yankees as well as their extensive farm system in Kansas City, Texas, Seattle, Oakland, Cleveland and Toronto for their latest World Series win. Y. Hillel Crandus?Chicago, Nov. 5, 2009

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