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Believe it or not, Manny’s Return represents an opportunity for the Rockies

The conventional wisdom went that anyone who had any plans of catching up with the Dodgers in the NL West should have made their move while Manny Ramirez was on suspension. Troy Renck of the Denver Post thinks that wisdom gets it exactly backwards:

Manny Ramirez returns Friday. That’s when the Rockies need to make up ground. I know it doesn’t make any sense that the Dodgers will be worse with their best player back. But hear me out. Ramirez isn’t returning after missing a few days with a strained hamstring or sore knee. He will have missed 50 games for cheating -- a lengthy, humiliating absence that’s foreign to him. When Ramirez rejoins the lineup Friday, it might as well be March 1. That’s how far he will be behind.

“It’s not like he’s going to hit five home runs in the first 10 games,” Dodgers third-base coach Larry Bowa said. “It’s going to take him a few weeks to get going.”

I can see the logic there, and it’s made even clearer by the schedule, which has the Rockies facing the Diamondbacks, Nats, and Braves -- who Renck sadly but accurately calls “mediocre” -- facing Colorado in the first ten days post-Manny.

Granted, any talk of a post-Manny return Rockies run would be meaningless if it wasn’t for the fact that the Rockies made a hell of a run while Manny was gone, but the point remains a good one: whether the NL West becomes a real race as opposed to a Giants-Rockies wild card sprint may very well be decided as Manny Ramirez clears his throat over the next two weeks.