- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 15, 2009

PHOENIX (AP) - Manny Ramirez is having a hard time getting started because of a sore left hamstring.

The Los Angeles Dodgers slugger aggravated his balky hamstring Sunday while playing the outfield for the first time this spring.

Ramirez was hurt in the fourth inning of a 9-5 loss to the Colorado Rockies while chasing a ball into the left-field corner. He finished the half-inning but was lifted for pinch-hitter Delwyn Young in the bottom half.

“It’s the same thing. When I was going to the line to cut off the ball on the double, I tried to push it and I felt it,” Ramirez said before reciting a line he’s been using all spring. “Maybe age is catching up with me.”

The 36-year-old Ramirez said he didn’t know if the injury was severe enough that it would have kept him out of a regular-season game.

Ramirez sat out games Thursday and Saturday for precautionary reasons after first feeling tightness in the hamstring. He said he felt pain Sunday when he chased Troy Tulowitzki’s double into the corner.

“It’s a little frustrating, but you have to be patient,” Ramirez said. “What can you do? We’ll take it day-by-day again. Today in practice I ran and I felt good. But I have been cautious. This time I pushed it and I could feel it.”

Dodgers manager Joe Torre said the pain is centered just above the back of the left knee. It’s actually more a tendon issue than a hamstring, so it’s not a major concern for the team at this point.

Ramirez was supposed to play left field again Monday, but he will take the day off. The club plays split-squad road games against Oakland and Seattle.

Torre said no tests were planned on Ramirez’s leg.

“If it doesn’t get any better in a couple of days, we probably will,” he said. “We have plenty of time, and he’ll have plenty of at-bats even if he doesn’t play the rest of the week.”

Torre acknowledged, however, that Ramirez is a little concerned.

“That’s why he told us about it, which is the right thing,” the manager said.

Ramirez returned to the Dodgers when he agreed to a $45 million, two-year contract on March 3. He began working out with the team the following day.

In his only other spring training game, Ramirez was the designated hitter on Friday. He walked twice before hitting a single.

In his lone at-bat on Sunday, he grounded out to the right side and said he felt no discomfort while running to first base.

It was a bad day for Dodgers pitchers, too.

Eric Milton and Claudio Vargas, both candidates for the fifth spot in the rotation, were roughed up in their first inning of work.

Milton, competing with Jason Schmidt, Shawn Estes and Vargas for the final starting job, gave up six consecutive hits during a 32-pitch first inning, including a solo home run by Ryan Spilborghs and RBI singles by Tulowitzki, Dan Ortmeier and Omar Quintanilla.

Vargas came on in the fourth and promptly allowed hits to four of the first six batters he faced.

Earlier in the day, Torre hinted that Schmidt, who has missed the last season and a half due to two shoulder operations, could start the season on the disabled list and make a few rehab starts to build arm strength.

“There is three weeks left. We still haven’t had that one guy jump out, but we have time,” Torre said.

Colorado pitcher Jorge De La Rosa, who got only one out in his previous start (five runs, four hits, three walks) on Tuesday, breezed through three scoreless innings this time, allowing one hit.

“It was a good day for him. Fastball command, down in the zone, command of both sides of the plate, and his complementary pitches were thrown for strikes,” Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said. “He’s not going to get it done every time, but we’re going to keep knocking on that door.”

Notes:@ Dodgers OF Valentino Pascucci is 7-for-12 this spring. He hit his third homer and second in two days, a two-run shot in the seventh. He missed a week while playing for Italy in the World Baseball Classic. “When he hits them, they stay hit,” Torre said. … LHP Erick Threets felt better Sunday after leaving Saturday’s game against Milwaukee when he felt discomfort in his shoulder, which he injured in 2006. “He felt some pain and he was literally shaking when I got out there,” Torre said. “But he’s fine today.” INF Doug Mientkiewicz will miss 5-6 days after injuring a quadriceps muscle while running out of the batter’s box Saturday.

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