Regreso de Manny

Manny is back.

Sort of.

The Dodgers’ slugger is nearing the end of a 50 game suspension instituted by the MLB for Ramirez’s use of banned substances. Manny is scheduled to return to the Dodger lineup on July 3 at San Diego. He is currently working his way back into playing shape with the Albuquerque Isotopes, the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate

In his first game with the Topes, Manny was without words.

“I aint talking today, baby,” Ramirez said. “Write what you want.”

Manny isn’t some young player intimidated by the limelight. Rather, he knows what kinds of questions the media will throw at him. And having not played in sometime, his bat speed is a little slow. Keep that elbow in, Manny.

After stretching and warmups, Manny returned to the Isotopes clubhouse and reluctantly took on a number of questions. As anticipated, the first question concerned Manny’s use of steroids.

“I’m not going to talk about it anymore,” he said. “I already said what I’m going to say. I’m here to do my rehab, you know, and (go) to the game and get a couple at-bats and get back to the big-league team.”

Manny is playing left field for the Topes. Topes manager Tim Wallach has left hitting and running to Manny’s discretion.

Manny played four innings on Tuesday, five on Wednesday and is penciled in for seven tonight. It is not certain if he will play in the series finale on Friday.

 Keeping Pace

The Dodgers continue to find success without their supposed leader and have been making some noise on offense. Although the Dodgers have been walked 295 times (third highest in league), the team is managing 688 hits (third highest), batting a collective .278 (fourth highest), and has scored 360 runs (eighth highest).

On Wednesday, offensive production was not enough. Matt Kemp crushed a three-run homer in the eighth inning against the Chicago White Sox. But Chicago fans had the last laugh. The White Sox launched six long balls in this one. The Dodgers lost 10-7.

Despite the loss, the Los Angeles Dodgers still boast the best record in professional baseball (47-26). But it is the Colorado Rockies who have been stealing the show lately. The Rockies have won 17 of their last 20 and are two games over .500 (2.5 games behind the Giants and 10.0 games behind the Dodgers). The Rockies seem to be slowing a bit, but remain in the hunt for a wild card spot.

In regards to winning percentage, the NL West is the best division in the National League with three teams at least two games above .500. Save the Dodgers, the division is currently taking on the league’s worst division (in terms of winning percentage), the AL West.

Shaq Daddy, Big Diesel, Big Cactus… The Cleveland Rock?

Former Los Angeles Laker Shaquille O’Neal will likely be sent to the Cavaliers sometime this week. The Cleveland Cavaliers have reached an agreement in principle to acquire the Phoenix Suns center.

Cleveland will give up Ben Wallace, Sasha Pavlovic, the 46th pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft and some cash for O’Neal.

O’Neal helped lead Los Angeles to three NBA Championships in his tenure with the Lakers. This move might help the Cavaliers and a hungry Lebron James reach the promise-land. Cleveland could prove a better match-up against conference opponent Orlando as O’Neal poses a bigger problem for Magic center Dwight Howard.

The Suns were determined to clear some salary cap room. O’Neal, 37, is slated to make $21 million next season. This trade will help the Suns save some capital. However, I’m not certain it will save the team from further waning.

Shaq, this could be your last stand. Can you dig it?

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