Manny Ramirez, Por Favor

Fresh off last year's season of scrutiny, ManRam is determined to prove that performance enhancers were not the reason for his All-Star swat. He's all business, the Dodgers say. 99 Problems But My Swing Ain't One, Manny's shirt says.

And that's all he's saying, apparently. Manny hasn't done an substantive interviews with reporters in a month and usually responds to requests with "No, gracias." And ESPN reporter Ramona Shelburne got the Manny blow-off on two different continents and still managed to bang out thousands of words basically coming to the same conclusion: Manny is still being Manny. For better or for worse.

"You know your life could be easier if you told people about the things you do?" I state, more than ask. "Why don't you do it more? Why do you go into these times where you don't talk to anyone? Did something happen? Did somebody write something you didn't like?"

He shrugs, then finally puts the camera down.

"You know last year, everybody was always by my locker, wanting to talk every day. I just need to worry about playing the game," he says, so softly that I have to lean over to hear him clearly.

Photo: Vin Scully Is My Homeboy

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