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Ex-Sox Slugger Ramirez Retires

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ramirez and ortiz 3 22 11 ap photo charles krupa e1300884773584 Ex Sox Slugger Ramirez Retires

Manny Ramirez hugs Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz during spring training. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

NEW YORK (AP) _ Tampa Bay Rays slugger Manny Ramirez told Major League Baseball on Friday that he is retiring after being notified of an issue that arose under MLB’s drug policy.

The commissioner’s office announced Ramirez’s decision in a
statement, but did not say whether he tested positive for a banned
substance. Ramirez previously served a 50-game suspension for
violating the drug policy while he was with the Los Angeles
Dodgers.

“Major League Baseball recently notified Manny Ramirez of an
issue under Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and
Treatment Program,” the statement said.

“Rather than continue with the process under the Program,
Ramirez has informed MLB that he is retiring as an active player.
If Ramirez seeks reinstatement in the future, the process under the
Drug Program will be completed.”

MLB said it would have no further comment. A second positive
test under the program results in a 100-game suspension, and a
third test results in a lifetime ban.

“The Tampa Bay Rays were informed today by the Commissioner’s
Office that Manny Ramirez has decided to retire after being
informed of an issue under the Drug Program,” the Rays said in a
statement. “We are obviously surprised and disappointed by this
news. We will have no further comment on this matter, and our fans
and organization will carry on.”

The 38-year-old outfielder-designated hitter left the team
earlier this week to attend to what the Rays called a family
matter. Manager Joe Maddon said on Thursday that he expected
Ramirez to be available for Friday night’s game at the Chicago
White Sox.

The 12-time All-Star agreed to a $2 million, one-year contract
with the defending AL East champions in the offseason, hoping to
re-establish himself as one of the game’s feared hitters.

Ramirez struggled with injuries but still hit .298 with nine
homers and 42 RBIs in 90 games for the Dodgers and White Sox last
season. He’s a career .312 hitter with 555 home runs in 18-plus
seasons, including some of his best with the Cleveland Indians and
Boston Red Sox.

It was after signing with the Dodgers, though, that his
reputation was sullied.

The erratic Ramirez performed well on the field and became a fan
favorite, with “Mannywood” signs popping up around town, and
wound up signing a $45 million, two-year contract to remain with
the Dodgers. But in May 2009, he was suspended for testing positive
for human chorionic gonadotropin, a banned female fertility drug
that is often used to help mask steroid use.

According to a report in the New York Times later that summer,
Ramirez also tested positive for performance-enhancing substances
during Major League Baseball’s anonymous survey testing in 2003.

Ramirez was a member of the Red Sox during that time.

“I’m shocked,” said Colorado’s Jason Giambi, who has
acknowledged taking steroids during his own career. “He was
phenomenal, one of the best right-handed hitters I’ve ever seen.

“He always kind of portrayed that he was out there but he knew
how to hit, man,” Giambi said. “He was unbelievable when it came
to hitting. He knew what he wanted to hit and what pitch he wanted
to hit and what you were going to throw him, and watching him take
an at-bat was pretty impressive.”

The Rays, winless through their first six games, hoped the Manny
they signed this season would be the same Manny who was MVP of the
2004 World Series when he was with the Red Sox.

At his best, Ramirez was one of the game’s great hitters,
finishing in the top five in MVP voting four times. He led the
American League with a .349 batting average in 2002, finished
second the following year, and had an AL-best 43 home runs in 2004.

At his worst, Ramirez was criticized for his lackadaisical
nature, particularly in the outfield. More than once, managers and
teammates complained that Ramirez didn’t seem to care about playing
defense or wouldn’t hustle down the line after a hit.

Still, Giambi said his approach to hitting was never in
question.

“It was just impressive to watch,” he said. “He always played
that he was aloof, but he really knew how to play the game. You
could talk hitting with him and his work ethic was pretty
unbelievable. He would be in the cage, hitting off breaking-ball
machines and I think that’s a part of him that people didn’t see,
that his time and effort into hitting.

“It paid off for him. He’s one of the best right-handed hitters
I’ve ever seen.”

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