SAN FRANCISCO -- A big reason for Hanley Ramirez's smooth transition to his new club is the presence of Dodgers coach Manny Mota, whom, Ramirez said, he's known since he was "a little boy."
Mota, now 74 and in his 33rd season on the coaching staff, is still an icon in his native Dominican Republic and remains instrumental when the Dodgers recruit and/or acquire a fellow countryman like Ramirez.
Mota said he has already counseled Ramirez to turn the page from his mercurial stint in Florida and fulfill his potential as the rare five-tool infielder.
"I told him that what happened in the past is the past, this is a new beginning, and all he has to do is play baseball," Mota said. "He's a complete player. And he doesn't have to carry this team. There is Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp and now three guys together.
"He told me he's proud to be a Dodger, he knows the organization's history with Latin players and he's going to play hard. But I reminded him not to put pressure on himself. Maybe there was too much pressure on him in Miami. He doesn't have to carry this team. He has come to a good city with good fans and a rare organization. Now, just play hard and have fun."
Mota said he knows that Ramirez is better than the player that has averaged around .250 for the last year and a half.
"A lot of this is just to get his confidence back," Mota said. "There's got to be a reason for that [average]. He was 30/30 [homers and stolen bases in 2008]. But he hasn't developed the potential he has yet.
"He has the tools and talent to be one of the best players in the game, a five-tool guy at shortstop. It's hard to think of somebody like that with the combination of skills he has. He seems relaxed, loose, happy, and we just have to get his confidence back and he can be important to this club in a lot of ways."
Mattingly: Hanley 'is part of us' going forward
SAN FRANCISCO -- Don Mattingly weighed in on the early Ramirez comparisons, Manny vs. Hanley.
"Manny was unbelievable. The instant he arrived, he was just throwing up hits all over the place," the Dodgers manager said Saturday in the wake of Hanley's game-winning homer Friday night. "Every hit and ribbie we needed, he'd get. But I look at Manny and Hanley different.
"Manny was at the end of his career. When we got him, nobody thought we'd re-sign him. Hanley is in his prime and will be here for two more years. He has more life in his body, he can run. Manny was amazing, but Manny was more like a rental. Hanley is part of us. He's part of the process we're building toward."
For Saturday's batting order against Giants left-hander Barry Zito, Mattingly made some changes, moving Ramirez up to cleanup behind Matt Kemp, moving Andre Ethier from fourth to second and elevating Mark Ellis from second to leadoff.
"I felt Mark fits more at leadoff today and Dre has had trouble with Zito [5-for-36]," said Mattingly. "I put him in front of Matt to get some strikes. Then Hanley and Matt, with Jerry [Hairston] fifth because he's hit Zito good [9-for-25]. That's the thinking."
Mattingly said Ramirez immediately makes drafting a lineup "a lot easier to make out."
"Before, making out the lineup, not to knock anybody but sometimes we had Jerry in the three-hole, James [Loney] third -- they just weren't where they should be if we're going to be competitive on a daily basis."
And what if general manager Ned Colletti makes that lineup even easier to fill out by acquiring somebody like Shane Victorino to bat leadoff and pester pitchers?
"I can't talk about somebody else's player," Mattingly said.
De La Rosa slated for first rehab outing
SAN FRANCISCO -- Ted Lilly will have company on his Sunday rehab assignment: Rubby De La Rosa.
The 23-year-old who underwent Tommy John elbow reconstruction will follow Lilly's two-inning start for Class A Rancho Cucamonga with his first official game appearance, signaling he also could return to the club in August, manager Don Mattingly indicated.
De La Rosa showed flashes of brilliance last year after a May 24 callup, only to blow out his elbow and undergo surgery Aug. 9 with a 4-5 record and 3.71 ERA.
De La Rosa was generally considered one of the best young pitching prospects in the game until suffering the torn ligament.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.