Sometimes, one man’s loss is another man’s gain.

Certainly, Xavier Paul was not complaining when he was asked Wednesday night (May 6) to pack up his bags in Albuquerque and grab the next flight to Los Angeles. Moments earlier, MLB officials notified its franchise in Los Angeles – yes, the Dodgers, the only franchise who actually plays within city limits – its star outfielder Manny Ramirez would be suspended 50 games.

A man falls down. A roster spot opens up. “Now batting for the Dodgers, Xavier Paul,” the team public address announcer will be saying with some regularity through July 3.

“It’s an unfortunate situation,” Paul told Campus Circle minutes after the Dodgers lost to the Washington Nationals on Thursday night, the team’s first game after Manny’s suspension and, coincidentally, the first home loss of the season.

The 24-year-old has the dubious honor of being Ramirez’s “replacement.” Though, no one in the locker room will confuse the soft-spoken Paul for the outspoken Ramirez.

His minor league stats are not exactly through the roof either. In 25 games this season with the Albuquerque Isotopes, Paul hit two dingers and drove in 14 runs. He also had a .344 batting average and stole eight of 10 bases, scored 10 runs and struck out 17 times. Of his 33 hits, 11 (nine doubles, two triples) were for extra bases.

If only he was as productive on Thursday – Paul grounded into a double play on his only at-bat.

Needless to say, Paul surely was nervous. Not only was his first career at-bat in the majors, he was dubbed with the “honor” of being that one guy who may one day stump sports enthusiasts when asked to “name the player called up from AAA baseball to fill the roster spot opened up by Manny Ramirez’s 50-game suspension.”

Naturally, Paul was asked about his nerves in the batter’s box, and he was quite honest about his state of mind.

“Yeah, I definitely had the butterflies,” he said with a smile starting to break on his young face. “But I was not as nervous as I thought I would be. Once I got inside that batter’s box, I felt quite comfortable and as if I belonged here.”

Certainly, one would think Paul always felt he belonged with the Dodgers. After all, he did spend seven years in the team’s farm system after the Dodgers selected the 18-year-old straight out of high school in the fourth round of the 2003 draft.

And comfortable he should feel, despite the circumstances of his call-up. Perhaps the Manny Ramirez suspension truly is the perfect opportunity for Paul to make an impression on the Dodgers organization. While they clearly respect his game enough to keep him around in the minors and felt his game warranted a call-up last season when rosters were allowed to expand to 40 players, it is entirely possible Paul would not have had a chance to earn at-bat this season.

Yet, here he is at Chavez Ravine, called up on a moment’s notice – hours away from Albuquerque, even further from his native Louisiana.

He certainly acknowledges the gravity of the situation, telling this writer: “It’s certainly a tough time for the organization, and it’s tough to be called up in this situation.”

But, Paul also acknowledges the opportunity presented to him at the fateful expense of one Manny Ramirez, adding: “Hopefully, I can take advantage of this opportunity and make a difference.”

Ideally, Paul will become an everyday player for the Dodgers. Until then, he is just an answer to a not-so-thrilling trivia question.