UPDATED: Red Sox react to Ramirez' suspension

May 07, 2009 - 12:51 pm
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The Red Sox clubhouse was barraged with questions about the 50-game suspension of Manny Ramirez. Mike Lowell offered pointed commentary about "another black eye" for the game, expressing disbelief that in an era of testing, and in which there is a clear list of acceptable substances that can be consumed by players, that news of further violations of MLB's policy on performance-enhancing drugs continue to occur. DAVID ORTIZ David Ortiz initially refused any comment about the suspension of his longtime teammate. "I play for Boston. Manny plays for L.A.," said Ortiz. "Go ask him." He repeated that notion a few times, but he did allow that he was saddened by the news about Ramirez using a banned substance. "Of course," he said. "You don't want nobody to be involved in a situation like this, but what can I say?" He said that players get "a lot" of advice about permissible substances in spring training. He did suggest that the list "is a little confusing sometimes," particularly with over-the-counter substances. "I try not to buy anything," said Ortiz. MIKE LOWELL "It'€™s just another black eye for the game," said Lowell. "Guys that are playing the game trying to maximize the talents they'€™ve been given naturally, everyone is linked in that category. I think that'€™s what'€™s a shame. I understand that it'€™s hard for Major League Baseball to glorify guys who they think are doing it right because we don'€™t know. That'€™s where we'€™ve gotten to. I think that'€™s very unfortunate. We keep finding these guys, and the message is terrible, especially for young kids who aspire to play Major League Baseball. "I don'€™t put (expletive) in my body ... I don'€™t understand why now anyone would even come close to taking anything that could remotely result in a positive test," he added. "In the past if guys did it, they had the crutch that they weren'€™t testing. Maybe there'€™s some secret society that maybe I wasn'€™t invited to. I don'€™t get it. I don'€™t. I wish I could, but I don'€™t." Lowell said that he had "no idea" whether Ramirez used anything in violation of MLB rules while in Boston, but he did say that he never saw Ramirez taking any substances. In Lowell's eyes, there was nothing tainted about the team's 2007 championship (the only one for which Lowell and Ramirez were teammates). Even so, the Sox third baseman was clearly upset with the news. "It hurts me because I think he made a personal choice and I think it was the wrong one. I think it sends a terrible message," said Lowell. "But each person has to look in the mirror in the morning. If you can live with it, that'€™s up to you." JOHNNY DAMON In New York, Johnny Damon had some fairly pointed remarks about his former teammate's suspension. He played with Ramirez, and is currently a teammate of Alex Rodriguez in New York, and so he has been front-and-center with the two largest figures to be ensnared in the PED scandal. '€œThese guys want to be the best and to us they did look like the best and now they'€™re paying for it," Damon told reporters. '€œI'€™m just surprised somewhat but every thing that comes out with baseball it seems like it'€™s mostly negative stories and unfortunately, Manny'€™s one of them, a former teammate of mine and it'€™s disappointing to hear. '€œI'€™m not sure if you can be surprised by anything now I think. I was surprised when A-Rod'€™s allegations came out, so I think that was the biggest surprise to me in the baseball world.  Now another one of our great players has gotten in trouble," Damon added. "He was such a talented hitter that I would not think he would need an edge.  That'€™s how good of a hitter he is and he made things look easy. He did his homework on his pitchers, the videos that he watched, the hard work that he put in on the field and off the field.  I didn'€™t think he needed an edge." (On the state of the game) '€œThis game has been able to withstand the test of time and this game has been able to I believe thrive so far this year.  This is another black cloud and hopefully we can weed all this stuff out of the game in the upcoming years.  Unfortunately, some very good baseball players have to go down with it." DUSTIN PEDROIA Dustin Pedroia not only played with Ramirez from 2006-08, but also spent time with him at Athletes' Performance in Arizona. Given what he had seen of the slugger's training habits, he was shocked to learn of the positive test. '€œI was a little shocked. I wouldn'€™t have suspected that," said Pedroia. "I played with him for a year and a half. I think that was the furthest thing. Obviously I worked out with him at the beginning of '€™08 and I know his work ethic and he knows what to put into his body, the good things. It'€™s a little shocking.'€ "Obviously playing with him for a couple of years, that'€™s the furthest thing you think of. It'€™s definitely unfortunate for him," he added. "But I think, for all of us, it'€™s really not our issue anymore. Manny has moved on to LA. It'€™s unfortunate for him. Obviously he'€™s one of the greatest right-handed hitters ever. It'€™s just tough to look up there as a fan of the game, just like anybody else, to see a superstar like that go through something like this.'€ '€œObviously he knows how to get into shape, he knows how to take care of his body and stuff like that, so that'€™s obviously surprising. I don'€™t really know. I'€™m not familiar what happened, or know all the details. The only thing I know is I played with him a couple of years and he worked hard. I didn'€™t suspect this stuff.'€ (Does it tarnish his legacy?) '€œI don'€™t know. The two years I played with him, the year and a half, shoot, we won the World Series, he was kind of injured both years. He missed time in both years. I don'€™t think '€¦ it'€™s not like we wouldn'€™t be the world champions if, whatever this is that'€™s going on. I don'€™t think it tarnishes any of that stuff.'€ (Do you anticipate a time when MLB will be clean?) '€œI hope. That'€™s what everyone is rooting for. Everyone that plays this game wants little kids to look up to all the Major Leaguers and know that this game is clean and we play the game the right way and hopefully those kids will look up to us. Hopefully all this stuff goes away and they can just watch us all on TV and enjoy it...Obviously the game is changing in a different direction. You see a lot more speed guys. You look at the Indians. Grady Sizemore, he'€™s a younger player, he'€™s very exciting in the outfield. He hits a lot of triples, does a lot of things. That'€™s the player that I think the game is going to and it'€™s exciting. I think there'€™s a lot of vsay this game is changing in the right way.'€ (How careful are you about what you take?) '€œObviously guys are careful. I take centrum multi-vitamins every day. That'€™s it. I think the careful route is the best so you don'€™t have to worry about anything like that.'€ '€œObviously everyone is not doing it. It'€™s unfortunate that those guys are talented enough, it'€™s unfortunate that this happened. I think the game needs to move on and turn the page on all of this. I think everyone is tired of hearing about it, to be honest with you. I don'€™t think anybody wants anybody to get in trouble or get suspended for games or whatever it is. Everyone just wants to move on and play baseball.'€ '€œThe thing is, for me, I'€™m trying to move on and not worry about that. I know when I was a kid, I looked up to a lot of guys. Some people do bad things, some people don'€™t. People have to make their own assumptions. My thing is, just go out and play baseball and hopefully kids enjoy what you are and who you are.'€ JONATHAN PAPELBON (On whether he was surprised) "I was. I'm not going to say I wasn't." "We weren't really the best of friends...He's not in our clubhouse anymore, so this is something we're not even worried about" "Hopefully we can get to the point where there aren't even accusations of steroid use (in the game)." Asked if 50 games was a reasonable penalty, Papelbon responded, "That's the rule, man. You've got to stick to 'em." (On how difficult it is to understand the rules) "It's really easy...(MLB) makes a pamphlet for you in Spanish and English." JASON VARITEK Like most of Manny Ramirez' former teammates, Jason Varitek seemed a bit stunned and unsure of how to react to the news of the slugger's suspension. "This is the real big one right now...Everybody is still trying to find out exactly what's going on and what's happened. I don't know how to react at this point," said the Sox captain. "I still think for everybody there has to be clarity of what's going on before you can pass judgment. And before you can pass judgment everybody has to find out what's going on. It's changed about 900 times today since you first probably heard at noon until now. I haven't heard anything the last couple of hours, I've been doing my work...You hate to pass complete judgment until you know the whole story." Varitek was less concerned with Ramirez' specific case than he was with the broader issue of performance-enhancing substances in the game. "I don't know if I'm going to talk to Manny myself because we have enough things going on to worry about here. The important thing is for the game, which goes beyond every one of us as players," said Varitek. "This game is much bigger than the players itself. It's generations and generations so for that fact and that alone is why the program is put into place and I have to see exactly what's gone on and if that's a benefit to having the right program in place." JOHN SMOLTZ "I don't even know enough to comment...Certainly any news like that is never good news...I was surprised a long time ago. I'm numb now. I just hope, I really hope, that nobody gets falsely accused." "If this becomes another one, then certainly it's another shot at baseball's attempt to clean it up...I'm on the tail end of my career, and I hope they clean it up. I really do. I hope it gets back to the greatest game on earth. I'm confident it will. Unfortunately, you've got to go through stuff like this...Sooner or later, enough guys will get wake-up calls and guys will do whatever they can to make sure their names are not on the news for stuff like this. I'm sure that nobody in their right mind wants to be dealing with it."