What baseball fan in his right mind wouldn't want the wrecking ball that leveled the dump that was called Shea Stadium?

It's up for bidding on eBay, starting at $35,000. If that sounds pricey, consider that the ball weighs three tons, so it's going for $5.83 a pound, about the same as a pound of Swiss cheese. And it's been painted to look like a baseball. What more could you want?

Visit from Manny

Anyone waiting for Manny Ramirez to expound on his 50-game banishment from baseball for using an illegal substance can forget about it.

Ramirez surprised his Los Angeles Dodgers teammates by dropping in for a pregame visit Tuesday. He told reporters he wasn't going to formally address the issue.

"I don't want to be a distraction for this team," he said. "What happened, happened."

Barring rainouts, Ramirez will be eligible to return July 3. The Dodgers are 18-12 (entering last night) in his absence, and Juan Pierre, who has started every game in left field since Ramirez has been out, is batting .362, with 18 RBIs and 12 stolen bases, during that stretch.

"Sometimes after games I'll call my guys, like [James] Loney, and say hi," Ramirez said. "And if I see something wrong, what he's doing, I'll call him. It's not fun because you want to play. You want to win. You want to help your team win. But it is what it is. They've been playing great."

Time to negotiate

A record that will surely fall this summer is the $10.5 million pitcher Mark Prior received after he was drafted in 2001. It's the most for an amateur.

The righthanded phenom Stephen Strasburg, the No. 1 overall pick, by Washington, will easily top that when he signs. The Scott Boras client's asking price has been estimated at $50 million. It's anticipated that the agent will use the $52 million Boston gave Daisuke Matsuzaka as the basis for negotiations. Matsuzaka is also a Boras client.

"There are rare opportunities for franchises to obtain a talent that is extraordinary," Boras said. "In most instances, those opportunities come via free agency. Teams that capitalize on these opportunities can sway the competitive balance."

Heat equals homers

The Atlanta Braves hit eight home runs in their first 22 games at Turner Field. But they've hit 10 in their last seven games there.

Catcher Brian McCann said the increase was a result of the weather's turning hot and humid.

"The first two months of the season, it plays like a graveyard," McCann said on MLB.com. "When it heats up, the ball travels, for whatever reason. All it means is that if you don't hit the ball right on the screws, it can still leave the yard."


The Nationals agreed yesterday to a deal with their second first-round pick of the draft - righthander Drew Storen, who was chosen 10th. Terms were not disclosed. Storen, who is regarded as a closer, was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 34th round in 2007 but did not sign. He played at Stanford.