Manny Ramirez had the jitters when he stepped into the batter's box for the first time this spring - just not for the same reason as most players.
"I was kind of nervous the first at-bat, Ramirez said, "especially when they are paying me (US)$25 million to get base hits. I think that's not a good investment, but we'll see."
The eccentric slugger was back in the Los Angeles Dodgers' lineup after agreeing last week to a $45-million, two-year contract - he can void the deal after one season - and walked in his first two at-bats of a 4-3 victory over a Texas Rangers split squad Friday.
A day after being scratched from the lineup because of a tight hamstring, Ramirez served as the designated hitter and walked on five pitches in the first inning and six pitches in the third - he also had a single in the fifth.
"I'm in spring training. I want to see a lot of pitches and get my timing down," Ramirez said. "I was ready for my pitch and they didn't give it to me. So I walked. No hard feelings."
The crowd cheered loudly each time Ramirez walked to the plate. They booed just as loudly when Rangers starter Doug Mathis worked very carefully and off the plate.
"I told him he hasn't lost any of his flair from last year," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "That's pretty impressive for spring training."
Texas manager Ron Washington said the Rangers weren't trying to pitch around him, but Mathis acknowledged he didn't challenge Ramirez.
Ramirez ran the bases conservatively, trotting from second to third on Loney's single in the first.
"(My legs were) kind of heavy today," Ramirez said. "On the base hit, I didn't really want to push it going home so I said, 'Let me take my time and maybe tomorrow if I play the outfield I'll push it a little bit more."
Not just yet.
Torre said Ramirez won't play in either Saturday's main game against the Brewers or the morning "B" game with the White Sox. He's penciled in to play left field in Sunday's home game with Colorado.
At Kissimmee, Fla., Houston's Mike Hampton had his best outing of the spring, allowing three hits in four scoreless innings while striking out four as the Astros and Washington Nationals played to a 2-2 tie in 10 innings.
The injury-plagued lefty missed all of 2006 and 2007 and was limited to just 13 games last season because of various injuries, but is hoping to revive his career in his return to Houston, where he won 22 games in 1999.
"I feel like I'm getting there," he said. "I'm a little bit better each and every time out. Tonight, I felt good. Everything was working pretty well."
The 36-year-old had allowed six runs combined in his two previous outings.
Hampton threw 65 pitches, which is the exact number he was supposed to get in Friday.
In other news:
- At Fort Myers, Fla., Brad Penny pitched two innings of a minor league intrasquad game at the Boston Red Sox's player development complex, his first spring training outing since shoulder fatigue cut short a bullpen session on March 1.
The right-hander allowed one run on one hit - a leadoff home run by David Mailman - with a strikeout and a walk.
- Right-hander Julian Tavarez agreed to a non-guaranteed, minor league contract with the Washington Nationals.
- Outfielder Jay Gibbons was released by the Florida Marlins, a setback in his bid to revive his career after admitting he used human growth hormone.
The Marlins made the move even though Gibbons hit .313 (5-for-16) this spring training with a homer and seven RBIs.
Gibbons was named in the Mitchell Report in December 2007 and hasn't played in the majors since.
- Seattle left-hander Erik Bedard of Navan, Ont., has cancelled a bullpen session for the second consecutive day, raising concerns that the Mariners' ace may be hurt more than he's letting on.
Bedard was scratched from his scheduled start against Kansas City on Wednesday because of sore buttocks and missed his bullpen session on Thursday because of the same thing. He cancelled again Friday.
- Minnesota catcher Joe Mauer will see a doctor in Baltimore on Saturday to get a second opinion on his ailing back. Mauer, the two-time American League batting champion who hit .328 last season, has not played at all in spring training. He had surgery on Dec. 22 to remove a blockage from his kidney.
Red Sox 8, Yankees 4
At Fort Myers, Fla., Boston third baseman Mike Lowell played in the field for the first time this spring and homered off Chien-Ming Wang, who gave up seven runs - one earned - and six hits in 1 2-3 innings.
Reds 1, Twins 0
At Fort Myers, Fla., Francisco Liriano surrendered his first home run of the spring, but he struck out five and walked one in 3 1-3 innings for Minnesota.
Jonny Gomes, a non-roster invitee for the Reds, slugged the homer over the left-field fence in the third inning.
Cardinals 3 (ss), Orioles 1 (ss)
At Jupiter, Fla., Joe Thurston started both ends of a two-city, day-night doubleheader. The St. Louis Cardinals' prospect was 3-for-5 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., then had an RBI and made a nice defensive play at third base while playing the first five innings in Jupiter.
Diamondbacks 14, Mariners (ss) 6
At Tucson, Ariz., Arizona's Billy Buckner threw two hitless innings and lowered his spring ERA to 2.25.
Cubs (ss) 8, Mariners (ss) 1
At Mesa, Ariz., Sean Marshall enhanced his bid for the Cubs No. 5 starter. The left-hander gave up an unearned run in 4 1-3 innings. He allowed three hits, a walk and struck out three.
Giants 7, Rockies 3
At Tucson, Ariz., Manuel Corpas pitched another scoreless innings in his bid for the Colorado closer job. He has given up only two hits in four innings this spring, while striking out two and walking none.
Angels 8, Cubs (ss) 2
At Tempe, Ariz., Kendry Morales hit a grand slam for his first homer of spring training and went 2-for-3 to up his average to .355. He is expected to start the season as the Angels' first baseman.
Blue Jays 3, Rays 1
At Dunedin, Fla., Toronto's Brett Cecil pitched 3 2-3 innings, allowing a hit and four walks.
Braves 9, Marlins 2
At Jupiter, Fla., Hanley Ramirez returned from the World Baseball Classic and doubled, stole a base and scored a run. Cameron Maybin went 3-for-3 including a bunt single in the third inning. He is batting .414 (12-for-29) in 10 games this spring.
Indians 4, Athletics 3
Brewers 5, Royals (ss) 1
Royals (ss) 4, Rangers (ss) 1
Pirates 6, Phillies 5
At Clearwater, Fla., Joe Blanton gave up gave up two runs on five hits in 4 2-3 innings for Philadelphia.
Mets 9, Tigers 3
White Sox 15, Padres 4