Rays Shocked, Disappointed by Manny Ramirez - NBC Chicago

Rays Shocked, Disappointed by Manny Ramirez



    Major League Baseball said on Friday that the league recently notified Manny of an issue under MLB?s drug prevention and treatment program and he said he would retire. (Published Saturday, April 9, 2011)

    Rays manager Joe Maddon was enjoying a $15 workout at the health club in the basement of the team's Chicago hotel. The vibration in his hoodie would signal a much more expensive problem.

    Tampa General Manager Andrew Friedman was calling.  He had just received news from MLB.

    Manny Ramirez decided to retire rather than continue the "process" of the baseball's drug program.

    "We were obviously surprised and hurt by it," said Friedman.

    The Rays had gone winless in their first six games and were looking for a spark from Ramirez who was expected to return to the team in Chicago to take on the White Sox Friday night.

    Ramirez had been on leave for "family" reasons.

    "I had no idea," teammate Johnny Damon said. "Something didn't seem right with him when he didn't make the trip with us to Chicago.  Everyone thought it was a different matter and not this."

    Damon choked back emotion recalling the excitement he and Ramirez shared being reunited with the Rays.

    It was going to be just like the old days in Boston.

    "I had no idea of anything with Manny, it's just something baseball players don't talk about. It's scarred the game for many years."

    Damon didn't want to focus on whether Ramirez had failed another drug test, and chose retirement rather than a 100 game suspension but rather on what Ramirez, the 12 tie All Star and .312 career hitter, did for the game in 18 plus seasons.

    "He's always been a great teammate.  He definitely was great for baseball. Unfortunately it has to end this way."

    Manager Joe Maddon's last conversation with Ramirez was earlier in the week when he talked to Manny about trying to carry the team too much. The Rays skipper said his Catholic background wouldn't allow him to condemn Ramirez, and while their conversation Friday before the game was private, he was at peace.

    "You'll find no finger pointing in the clubhouse," Maddon said.  "I don't think it's up to me to pass judgment."

    General Manager Andrew Friedman said the Rays knew the risk they were taking in signing Ramirez.

    "He was great for us in spring training, very very refreshing." Friedman added. "We uderstood it was a risk, what exactly was the level of risk is difficult to say."