LOS ANGELES -- As Hanley Ramirez prepared to make his home debut at Dodger Stadium on Monday, he couldn't help but notice a number of differences from Miami.
Yes, the palm trees, warm climate and heavy Latin community remain the same, but Ramirez is in unfamiliar territory after seven seasons with the Marlins. After struggling the last two seasons, Ramirez has responded well to the change of scenery, going 7-for-21 with a double, triple, home run, five runs and seven RBIs in his first five games as a Dodger.
Joining a team tied atop a division that is right in the thick of a pennant race appears to have helped. The Marlins entered Monday 47-54 and in fourth place in the National League East, while the Dodgers sat at 56-47 with a chance to make the playoffs.
"It's way different," he said. "You have to win every day. That's one of the things that I like."
Additionally, Ramirez can now play home games in a stadium that features more filled seats than empty ones. The Dodgers are averaging 41,212 fans per game this season, which is significantly higher than the 28,406 Miami averages. Last season, Ramirez played in front of only 18,772 fans per game, as the Marlins ranked second-to-last in the league.
"Every time we came to Los Angeles the fans were always screaming," he said. "I think it's one of the loudest stadiums that I have been in. You look for the little things that can pump you up during the game."
Also different for Ramirez is the style of manager he is now playing under. In Miami, the infielder played for the fiery Ozzie Guillen, who wasn't afraid to let an expletive or two slip from his mouth. Now, he is playing for the laid back and easy-going Don Mattingly, who has been considered by many current Dodgers as the ultimate player's manager.
The differences extend from the coaches to the players, as Ramirez said the Dodgers play great as one unit that enjoys playing together. He noted the energy, fun and cohesiveness in the team's dugout and clubhouse.
"I think those guys make me better," said Ramirez, who laughed and opted to plead the fifth when asked how the Marlins compared.
That instant connection with his new club means a new gesture that has taken the Dodgers' dugout by storm. Every time Ramirez gets on base, he cups his eyes to signify "I see you" to his teammates. He said the idea came one day when he and Dee Gordon were talking in the dugout, and he said it's just another example of all the fun he is having as a result of the change of address.
Mattingly tempering Hanley/Manny comparisons
LOS ANGELES -- The comparisons are easy to make. They were both acquired right before the Trade Deadline, they both play with an unmistakable smile and they both have the same last name. Despite all that, Hanley Ramirez is not Manny Ramirez, and manager Don Mattingly is trying hard to keep the expectations manageable to make the transition as easy as possible.
In 2008, Manny nearly single-handedly lifted the Dodgers into the playoffs with a huge second half after leaving Boston. He hit .396 with 17 home runs and 53 RBIs with Los Angeles while captivating the entire city.
Hanley has injected life into the Dodgers lineup since last week's trade, going 7-for-21 with a double, triple, home run, five runs and seven RBIs entering Monday. The numbers have the Dodgers excited, but Mattingly doesn't want the infielder to get too caught up in the comparisons with a pair of star players in Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier around to alleviate the pressure.
Mattingly said he didn't expect the Dodgers to re-sign Manny after trading for him, so he felt as if the outfielder was coming as a rental. As for Hanley, Mattingly views him as part of the team's future.
"The blaze that Manny came in with, it's hard to live up to that," he said. "I'd really rather him just come and play, be himself and be comfortable."
That approach with Hanley extends to the field, where he has played third base since coming to the Dodgers.
Ramirez has been taking ground balls at both shortstop and third base, and Mattingly is taking a cautious approach with the infielder in a new atmosphere. He played shortstop his first six years in Miami before moving to third base this season, and he said he feels fine playing both positions.
"It's kind of tough getting back to a new position when you are trying to play a new one already," said Mattingly. "You are in a new club, a new situation with new surroundings, we are trying keep him as comfortable as possible."
Lilly, De La Rosa making strides on rehab stints
LOS ANGELES -- While the Dodgers' front office works hard to add more players before Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, a pair of pitchers on the current team are making progress to give the team a boost down the road this season.
Ted Lilly and Rubby De La Rosa both made their first rehab appearances on Sunday, and manager Don Mattingly was encouraged by what they showed.
Lilly, who had not pitched since May 23 due to left shoulder inflammation, threw two scoreless innings. Mattingly said the veteran starter will pitch again on Friday for Class A Rancho Cucamonga, and the plan was for Lilly to make at least three total rehab starts. Mattingly wants to make sure Lilly is able to come back in full force, and not in a limited role.
As for De La Rosa, Mattingly said the team will likely use the pitcher in a bullpen role when he returns.
The manager doesn't see De La Rosa as someone who can last seven innings this season, as he is months ahead of schedule following Tommy John surgery last August. He pitched three scoreless innings on Sunday, allowing two hits and one walk while striking out three.
Colletti working to further bolster roster by Deadline
LOS ANGELES -- There were two fresh faces in the Dodger clubhouse Monday afternoon in Hanley Ramirez and Randy Choate, and general manager Ned Colletti said he is working hard to make sure they won't be the only ones.
Colletti said he has been in communication with a number of clubs regarding potential trades, and that it could come down to the final hours leading up to Tuesday's 1 p.m. PT non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Names like Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza and Shane Victorino have been mentioned as possibilities for the Dodgers, but Colletti wouldn't commit to any names or teams with whom he has been talking. However, he said he thinks the Dodgers have a chance to do at least one thing, even if it means waiting until Tuesday morning.
"I've probably talked to fewer clubs than I ever have, but the ones I have talked to, I have talked to over and over and over again," said Colletti, noting how the second Wild Card has changed the landscape of the trade market this year.
"Our focus has been on the same guys for a long time."
Colletti mentioned a desire to add a starter, reliever or hitter, and he said the team doesn't have an order of importance this close to the Deadline.
With new ownership in place, the Dodgers have additional flexibility to make deals since the team can take on higher salaries than they have been able to in the past.
"We're not going to be reckless and we are not going to do something just to do it," he said. "But if we can improve the club, then we are going to take a shot at it."
Like Colletti, manager Don Mattingly remained confident the team would make another move, despite the clock clicking closer and closer to the Deadline. Prior to Monday's game, Mattingly was quick to say he expects a deal before backtracking a little bit.
"I know we are still working on stuff," Mattingly said. "I anticipate to do something. But maybe, maybe not. I can't say I know. I don't know."
Alex Angert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.