NEW YORK -- Booed most of the night, Manny Ramirez let plate umpire John Hirschbeck have the final say.
After watching another strike three, the Los Angeles Dodgers star dropped his bat, tossed his helmet and flung his elbow pad Tuesday night. That little show got him ejected, not that he seemed to mind.
"I didn't want to throw even more fire. I just walked away," Ramirez said. "I only play five innings, so I was leaving anyway."
Besides, he'd already done enough damage before getting tossed in the fifth inning. He drove in three runs with a pair of singles, and the Dodgers romped past the New York Mets 8-0.
Such an abrupt end to what began as a jovial evening for the formerly suspended slugger.
Hours before gametime, Ramirez walked into the clubhouse, spotted the waiting flock and broke into a familiar grin.
"Whoa. Whoa," the Dodgers' main man said. "Most wanted."
Far from his fans in Southern California, Ramirez received a less-than-sunny reception in his first at-bat. That said, the flailing Mets drew a much harsher reaction from the crowd at Citi Field.
"The fans have been great to me, especially in LA, so what can I say? I'm just blessed, wherever I go," he said.
Booed for about 20 seconds when he came up, Ramirez took a 3-2 pitch from Mike Pelfrey, chucked his bat aside and began heading toward first base. Not so fast, it was strike three.
Ramirez spun around and argued for a moment and kept barking at Hirschbeck from the dugout.
Ramirez came up the next inning, met Hirschbeck with a smile and spread his hands about a foot apart -- it looked like an indication the disputed pitch missed the plate. But the crew chief said Ramirez told him it was indeed strike three.
"I said, 'thanks, I appreciate it," Hirschbeck said.
Up with the bases loaded and two outs, Ramirez shattered his bat with a two-run single, and added an RBI single his next time up.
But in the fifth, Ramirez wasn't so jolly after striking out with the bases loaded. He was halfway through the infield when Hirschbeck took inventory of what Ramirez had thrown and tossed him.
"I didn't have a problem with the bat and the helmet. The elbow pad, tossing it in the air, that's a bit far," Hirschbeck said.
Ramirez took a left turn and went to the dugout while Dodgers manager Joe Torre came out to talk with Hirschbeck.
"The first one, it was a strike. But the last one, it was a ball," Ramirez said.
Said Torre: "I still think he's uneasy, so he may be a little more sensitive right now."
Ramirez was chatty before the series opener, but brushed back all questions about his 50-game suspension for using a banned female fertility drug. He repeated several times that he didn't want to talk about the past, albeit never with a stern tone.
And when it came to the future, he was downright playful. Tapping a reporter's notebook, he said: "Put in a good word for the All-Star game next year."
Ramirez finished seventh among NL outfielders in fan voting for starting All-Star spots. He is hitting .340 with seven home runs and 24 RBIs, and is 3 for 11 since his suspension ended.
He returned from his penalty over the weekend at San Diego. Many fans made the drive down from Los Angeles to see him at Petco Park, and he was showered with far more cheers than jeers.
Ramirez was a high school star in New York city, and the razzing he got was nothing close to what Atlanta's Chipper Jones routinely receives.
A few fans held up placards with drawings of syringes. Still, it was not nearly as severe as the greeting Yankees star Alex Rodriguez got in May at Baltimore in his first major league game since admitting he used steroids.
Wearing a blue Dodgers shirt, Bill George sat 12 rows off the field, down the left-field line. He's a season-ticket holder at Dodger Stadium and had come East with his teenage son on a ballpark tour.
"I think Manny is a talented player and an interesting personality. But I'm not thrilled with his behavior. To put in bluntly, he cheated," George said.