ST. LOUIS -- Manny Ramirez's impending return to the Los Angeles Dodgers has generated plenty of attention and fuss, none of which has permeated the Giants' clubhouse.
The National League West standings have remained virtually unchanged since early May, when Ramirez began his 50-game suspension for using a performance-enhancing substance. Upon Ramirez's departure, the second-place Giants trailed Los Angeles by 6 1/2 games. Entering Thursday, San Francisco remained in second and faced a seven-game deficit.
That doesn't mean the Giants have wasted the last two months. They've surged into the lead in the NL Wild Card standings (though many players believe it's ludicrous to focus on that this early) and their pitching staff has established itself as a formidable presence.
Ramirez's return to left field and the No. 3 spot in the batting order figures to strengthen the Dodgers, who already own the Majors' best record. That's mostly irrelevant to the Giants, who believe that they can best counter Los Angeles' big addition simply by concentrating on their own fortunes.
"The only time you focus on him is when you're playing that team," outfielder Randy Winn said. "We have to keep doing our job. We can't worry about who's hurt and who's back, things like that. There's no denying that the Dodgers have played well this entire season, with Manny and without Manny. But we need to focus on us."
Echoed first baseman Travis Ishikawa, "We didn't make up any ground in the West, but we've been playing great baseball. You can't really worry about what the Dodgers are doing or how often they're winning. We can only control what we can control and trying to win. If we continue to play good baseball, good things will happen come September, hopefully."
Or August. The Giants resume their season series against the Dodgers at AT&T Park from Aug. 10-12 before they meet in September at San Francisco (Sept. 11-13) and in Los Angeles (Sept. 18-20).
"Until the time comes that we play them," Ishikawa said, "you just go back to simplifying the game -- seeing the ball and hitting the ball; for a pitcher, throwing it; and on defense, catching it."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.