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Meet Dylan Hernandez, Dodgers Beat Writer for the L.A. Times

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L.A. Times beat writer Dylan Hernandez (with blue lanyard around his neck) and other reporters interviewing Joe Torre at the Dodgers Spring Training complex in Glendale, Az.
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Dylan Hernandez, the 28-year-old Dodgers beat writer for the Los Angeles Times, is set to embark on his second full season covering the team. The native Southern Californian and graduate of UCLA has worked for a slew of papers before the Times hired him in 2007. He recently ended one of the more difficult periods in his professional life: covering the Manny Ramirez saga for the Times through sleepless nights and hundreds of stories during a tumultuous off-season and into Spring Training. I recently caught up with him about the rigors of covering the sport, how traditional sports journalism has been affected by baseball bloggers and what has to happen for the Dodgers to resign Manny Ramirez.

At what point did it [the off-season] become over the top intense?

Literally it changed my life. The whole time. It was pretty bad. [Dodgers owner Frank] McCourt and [Manny Ramirez's agent] Boras are two very principled people. It always kept me on my toes.

Did you ever think the Dodgers wouldn't sign Manny?

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It made too much sense for both sides. The team needed a guy...the guy became the base of the franchise in two months. He made them relevant again. I think you could even argue that until they got Manny, it was Frank [McCourt's] franchise. And all these kids [Matt Kemp, Russel Martin, et al] came under the umbrella of Frank's plan. None of those kids, except for Russ making a couple of All-Star Games, was really a standout. [Andre] Ethier is probably the most refined, Kemp has the highest ceiling and Russ is the rock, but they all played roles. I thought the team didn't have a choice but to sign him. My guess was that there would be no one willing to pay that much for him.

There were rumors that Manny was willing to take less money to spurn the Dodgers for what he or Boras considered an insulting offer. Was that ever on the table?

If you hire a guy like Boras you hire him to get you the most money. If you look at the structure of that deal, it wasn't made for this year. Everything is set up for next year; he has the opt out clause, the Dodgers can't offer him arbitration, meaning you'd have to give a first round pick. In the case of a guy of Manny's caliber, it probably doesn't make a difference, but nowadays, first round picks are becoming that much more valuable because teams want to go younger and cheaper. Everything's paved for Manny to just bolt at the end of this year.

What do you think has to happen for him to stay?