By Bob Hurst

Despite an injury-plagued season, Manny Ramirez was enticing enough to three teams in the AL playoff race to make waiver claims on him. The Chicago White Sox won the exclusive rights to Ramirez over the Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays because they had the worst record of the three.

The Los Angeles Dodgers opted to let Ramirez go and get nothing in return instead of working out a trade or keeping the outfielder. The White Sox will pay the remaining $3.8 million left on Ramirez’s contract. Ramirez will become a free agent at the end of the season.

But for now, Chicago hopes to get a spark from Ramirez while trying to catch the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central race. Ramirez helped lead the Dodgers to an NL West Division title in 2008 after getting traded from Boston. He hit .396 with 17 home runs and 53 RBIs in the Dodgers last 53 games that year, and added four homers with 10 RBIs in the playoffs.

Ramirez, 38, is a 12-time All-Star who ranked 14th on the all-time home run list with 554 career homers at the start of this week. He had a .311 average with just eight homers and 40 RBIs with the Dodgers this season in 66 games. Ramirez went on the disabled list three times with right-leg injuries.

Ramirez’s last game as a Dodger was not pretty. After sitting for four consecutive games, he pinch-hit in the sixth inning with the bases loaded on Sunday at Colorado. After just one pitch, Ramirez argued a strike call and was ejected from the game.

Strasburg likely needs surgery: Maybe it was too good to be true — a No. 1 draft pick, a consistent fastball in the 100 mph range, and the future of the downtrodden Washington Nationals franchise.

But Stephen Strasburg, the 22-year-old rookie pitching sensation, has a torn ligament in his right elbow. He will likely need Tommy John surgery to replace the ligament, and will require 12 to 18 months of rehabilitation. That means that Strasburg will miss the rest of this year and all of next season.

Strasburg came on like gangbusters in his first major league start in June, striking out 14 batters against Pittsburgh. He had 92 strikeouts in 68 innings pitched with a 5-3 record and 2.91 ERA in 12 starts for the Nationals.

“It’s a new challenge,” Strasburg said. “I want to be the best at everything, and right now I want to be the best at rehabbing and getting back out there. It’s going to be a learning experience. I feel I’m going to be able to grow a lot as an individual and as a baseball player.”

Many pitchers have successfully returned after having Tommy John surgery, named after the pitcher who first had the procedure done in 1974 by Dr. Frank Jobe, when John was with the Dodgers.

Among those who have had the surgery and are prospering this season are Francisco Liriano, who is 12-7 with a 3.41 ERA for the Twins; Tim Hudson, who is 15-5 with a 2.24 ERA with Atlanta, and Chris Carpenter, who is 14-4 with a 2.93 ERA with St. Louis.

StatsWatch: Who will win the NL home run title this season? It’s a tight race with several players battling it out. Here are the NL’s homer leaders (through Sunday):

Albert Pujols, Cardinals, 35 HRs

Adam Dunn, Nationals, 32

Joey Votto, Reds, 32

Dan Uggla, Marlins, 29

Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies, 29

Mark Reynolds, Diamondbacks, 29

Prince Fielder, Brewers, 28

Adrian Gonzalez, Padres, 27

Diamond Notes: The Chicago White Sox retired the uniform number of former slugger Frank Thomas in a ceremony at U.S. Cellular Field on Sunday. Thomas, who wore No. 35, is the ninth White Sox player to have his number retired. Thomas played 16 of his 19 major league seasons with Chicago, and had a career .301 batting average to go with 521 home runs, 1,704 RBIs and a .419 on-base percentage. The club will also erect a statue of Thomas at the ball park next year…Former major league pitcher Roger Clemens entered a not guilty plea on Monday to charges of lying to Congress regarding whether he used performance-enhancing drugs. Clemens swore under oath before a House Committee in February 2008 that he did not use steroids or human growth hormone. Federal prosecutors charged Clemens with making false statements, perjury and obstruction of Congress…Andy Pettitte is eying a return in about two weeks. The New York Yankees pitcher has been out since July 18 with a strained groin. With the minor league season ending next week, Pettitte’s preparation for a start will likely be done in bullpen sessions and throwing against teammates. He was 11-2 with a 2.88 ERA at the time of his injury.

Copyright © 2010  Bob Hurst. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Hurst Sports Media.

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