Manny breaks silence on suspension

Manny breaks silence on suspension

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez on Tuesday made his first public comments since being suspended on May 7 for violating Major League Baseball's drug policy.

During an unscheduled meeting with reporters prior to the Dodgers' game against the Padres, Ramirez declined to elaborate on his initial statement made after the 50-game suspension was handed down, offering no further details about what led to the suspension. He is eligible to return to the Dodgers on July 3.

"That's in the past," Ramirez said. "Whatever happened, that's in the past. I'm coming to play my game and move on. What happened, happened. I spoke to [owner] Frank McCourt, I apologized, I spoke to [manager] Joe Torre, my teammates and I'm ready to move on. I didn't kill nobody, I didn't rape nobody. That's it."

The 37-year-old Ramirez said in a statement when the suspension was issued that he was given a banned medication (human chorionic gonadotropin, a female fertility drug) by a doctor for a medical condition. Ramirez could have applied for a "therapeutic use exemption," but he did not.

Anti-doping experts said the absence of hCG in Ramirez's drug test, coupled with the 50-game suspension MLB handed down, indicated that the Dodgers outfielder used steroids, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

HCG -- not a steroid but a substance banned by MLB's drug policy -- was not found in his system. But a prescription for the drug was found in medical files that were turned over to MLB after Ramirez's drug test during Spring Training showed a synthetic testosterone level four times normal for an average male. Ramirez reportedly dropped an appeal because the prescription was conclusive evidence of a violation.

Ramirez would not address any of that. He said he continues his morning workouts, which included running the bases for the first time Tuesday.

"I'm just happy to be back and say hi to the guys," he said. "I come in the morning and I run, ran the bases today. It was good. When they go on the road I stay here and work out."

He said he will probably need a week of Minor League games to get game-fit, as is allowed by the terms of the suspension. Ramirez said he's been watching the Dodgers play since he's been out, sometimes called teammates afterward to offer batting tips, and he made special mention of Juan Pierre, who has played spectacularly in Ramirez's absence.

"They've been playing great. When I come back, maybe I'm Wally Pipp," he said, referring to the New York Yankees first baseman who missed a game and was permanently replaced by Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig.

Torre said he didn't know if the commotion surrounding Ramirez's return would prove to be a distraction for the rest of the club.

"I don't know the answer to that," Torre said. "Early on for a period of time, I think, obviously, when he spends a lot of time here it becomes less of a novelty. But the fact that we're really not home that much at this juncture because we're gone this weekend and we're gone next weekend and beyond that to Chicago."

Nonetheless, Torre said he was surprised to see Ramirez on Tuesday.

"I can't speak for everyone else, but he did [surprise] me," he said. "We had heard possibly he would show up last week, and he has been showing up, but not when we're here. I still think he's uneasy being around until he starts playing the game, that's what he wants to do, that's what makes him the most comfortable, and I think anything other than that is going to make him a little antsy."

Ramirez said he believes the fans will welcome him back.

"I'm happy they support me and love me here and they know I let them down, but I'll come back and make it up and move on," he said. "I'll just come and play every day and play hard and that's it. Fans say, 'Hey, we miss you, we're waiting for you to come back.' That's a good thing. I went to Miami, everywhere I go people are crazy with me, 'Don't worry about it, man. You go and do your thing and come back better than ever.' Everywhere I go. What can I do? They love me.

"It's going to be crazy [at home]. On the road, it'll be the same. They boo me anyway. I love it, man. When they boo you the most, you focus, and that's a good thing."

Ramirez said the hardest part of the suspension is simply missing the games.

"I'm not used to sitting for 50 games," he said. "When I come back, I'll be ready. Seems like 100 games. Just want to come and play the game. Just want to come and play. Need no more motivation. Like I say, sitting around at home for 50 games -- it's tough, you love the game. Something like this happens, makes you better, makes you stronger. I'll be fine when I come back."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.