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But it was a different story after Ramirez arrived in what quickly became known as Mannywood.
Besides his hitting, he made a huge impact on the Dodgers' bottom line, with a big boost in attendance and souvenir sales, including No. 99 jerseys and fake dreadlocks.
Preparations for Ramirez's arrival at Camelback Ranch were already under way. The nameplate on the clubhouse locker next to shortstop Rafael Furcal's went from being blank to having "Reserved " attached to it.
"I had people calling me from the Dominican saying that Manny had signed but how they know, I'm here and I don't know. Then I came in and saw (the nameplate), and I knew something was up," Furcal said.
"A guy like Manny, you learn a lot of stuff from him. He's the best hitter in the game. Everyone is happy."
Ramirez's fun-loving attitude created a noticeable change in the Dodgers' clubhouse last season, and infielder Blake DeWitt expects the same again.
"He's one of, if not the best, hitter in the game, and a guy like that has a ripple effect," he said. "We have a great group and when you add a guy like that who has fun and keeps everyone loose it's just going to make it that much better. It rubs off."
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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