- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 5, 2009

From combined dispatches

The dawn of a rainy late-winter California day brought a breakthrough in the stalemate between Manny Ramirez and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

During a 6 a.m. meeting Wednesday at the Malibu beach house of Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, the sides reached a preliminary agreement on a two-year, $45 million contract.

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The deal is subject to the outfielder passing a physical, a person familiar with the talks said on condition of anonymity.

“We got a great meeting,” Ramirez told KCAL-TV as he emerged from his physical in suburban Inglewood. “I’m happy to be here. We got some unfinished business, and that’s why I’m here.”

Ramirez gets $25 million this year and has until November to decide whether to void the second season, which calls for a $20 million salary. The deal includes a full no-trade provision, and some of the salary will be deferred.

The Dodgers were the only team to acknowledge pursuing Ramirez, a 12-time All-Star who turns 37 in May. Ramirez helped the Dodgers win the NL West by hitting .396 with 17 homers and 53 RBI in 53 regular-season games. In eight playoff games, he batted .520 with four homers, 10 RBI, nine runs and 11 walks.

Torre, Colletti and McCourt attended the early meeting with Ramirez, agent Scott Boras and Boras’ assistant, Mike Fiore. The parties took about three hours for the deal to fall into place.

INDIANS: Kerry Wood reported no problems with his aching back after pitching batting practice for the first time, and Cleveland’s new closer appears to be on track to start the season with the club.

Wood, who signed a two-year, $20.5 million contract in December, threw his fastball and slider, striking out David Dellucci and Andy Marte in Goodyear, Ariz.

YANKEES: Johnny Damon is taking Alex Rodriguez’s latest remarks in stride, while Derek Jeter is staying silent.

Rodriguez caused a stir after playing for the Dominican Republic on Tuesday, saying he would like to see Mets shortstop Jose Reyes at the top of the Yankees’ batting order.

“Everything that comes out of Alex’s mouth now days is going to be scrutinized,” Damon said before the Yankees played the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday.

“I’m not going to let that bother me, and I hope Derek doesn’t go that way either,” Damon said. “We all know Jose Reyes is a great player, a great leadoff guy. He’s a great player who might have 10 or 15 more years left in him. Yeah, I think there’s probably 25 other teams who would want him to lead off and play short.”

MARLINS: A vote on Florida’s new ballpark is being delayed again.

City of Miami spokeswoman Kelly Penton said commissioners are not expected to vote on a proposal to bring a 37,000-seat stadium to the city’s Little Havana neighborhood until March 19. The commissioners were scheduled to discuss most of the agreement Friday.

Earlier this week, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez instructed the county manager to stop working on the stadium plan until the city reached a final vote on the proposal.

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