Manny Ramirez could be back in AL pennant race; White Sox awarded waiver claim on Dodgers star

The Manny Watch is on for Chicago's South Side.

Manny Ramirez was placed on waivers by the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the White Sox were awarded the claim that gives them exclusive bargaining rights for the slugger, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Friday.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the waiver-wire process is confidential.

The White Sox and Dodgers have until 1:30 p.m. EDT on Tuesday to complete a trade, which Ramirez would have to approve. The Dodgers also could let him go — with his consent — and the White Sox would simply assume his salary. Or, Los Angeles could keep Ramirez and try to make a run at the playoffs with him. The Dodgers are fourth in the NL West and fifth in the race for the wild card.

Chicago general manager Kenny Williams refused to talk about Ramirez before the White Sox beat the New York Yankees 9-4 Friday night in the opener of a weekend series.

"I can't," he said. "It's against the tampering rules. It's a large, large fine. Now, I know that a lot of others speak on such subjects and you guys may be cheated as a result of my unwillingness to go down that road. I prefer to abide by the major league rules, so I can't talk about it."

Ramirez's salary is $20 million in the final season of a two-year contract, but only $5 million is due this year, with the rest to be paid over the next three years. He also has a full no-trade clause that would allow him to veto a trade or waiver claim.

Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen deferred to Williams, but said Ramirez could help the team if the White Sox are able to acquire him. As long as the 12-time All-Star joins the White Sox by Tuesday, he would be eligible to play for them in the postseason.

"Believe me, if this kid comes here, this kid, (it's) because he wants to," Guillen said. "That's a good thing. That's a good thing about it."

The enigmatic Ramirez, who has 554 career home runs, didn't play in Los Angeles' 6-2 victory at Colorado on Friday night. Dodgers manager Joe Torre left him out of the starting lineup because of his 1 for 13 career numbers against Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez, but he was available to pinch hit.

Torre said before the game that he thought Ramirez would play Saturday and it didn't appear to him that the trade talk had bothered him.

"He seems pretty comfortable to me," Torre said. "I talked to him a couple of times today, once on the phone and when he came here."

The Dodgers began the day five games back in the NL wild-card race. The White Sox were 3½ games behind the first-place Minnesota Twins in the AL Central.

"Ideally, if you are trying to get anything done, you want to add to your club as quickly as possible," Williams said before Chicago's victory. "But these things take time and you have to go through the process. This is more so for me, I care about 7 p.m. and the New York Yankees.

"Whatever happens in the next few days, that's the primary goal. I don't want any of these guys certainly thinking about who may or may not be walking through the door."

The 38-year-old Ramirez likely would become the designated hitter in Chicago, especially considering his recent fragile history. Ramirez returned last Saturday from his third stint on the disabled list and has missed 59 games to injuries since last season, when he came back from a 50-game suspension following a failed drug test.

The former Indians and Red Sox outfielder joined the Dodgers in 2008 and instantly became a fan favorite, with a section of seats named in his honor at Chavez Ravine and wigs that mimicked his dreadlocks suddenly becoming fashionable. Ramirez performed so well down the stretch during his first season in Los Angeles that the Dodgers signed him to a two-year, $45 million contract.

The injuries and suspension have soured his stay, though, and Ramirez hasn't spoken to reporters since spring training, when he said this would be his final season with the Dodgers.

Ramirez doubled twice in his last game, a 5-4 victory at Milwaukee on Wednesday. He is batting .313 with eight homers and 40 RBIs in 64 games this season.

"I really don't care. Either way, I don't. I don't because I think our ballclub is good," Guillen said. "Can Manny help? Yes he can, there's no doubt about it. But I cannot just bring him or don't bring him because like I said, it's not my thing."


AP Sports Writer Beth Harris in Los Angeles and AP freelance writer Dale Bublitz in Denver contributed to this report.