|Manny suspended 50 games for taking PED|
Written by Bjoern Hartig (Contact & Archive) on May 07, 2009
Major League Baseball suspended Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez for 50 games on Thursday for use of performance enhancing drugs.
Ramirez, in a statement released by the Major League Baseball Players Association, attributed a positive drug test to a doctor-prescribed medication and waived his right to challenge the discipline.
"Recently I saw a physician for a personal health issue. He gave me a medication, not a steroid, which he thought was OK to give me. Unfortunately, the medication was banned under our drug policy. Under the policy that mistake is now my responsibility. I have been advised not to say anything more for now. I do want to say one other thing; I've taken and passed about 15 drug tests over the past five seasons.
"I want to apologize to Mr. McCourt, Mrs. McCourt, Mr. Torre, my teammates, the Dodger organization, and to the Dodger fans. LA is a special place to me and I know everybody is disappointed. So am I. I'm sorry about this whole situation."
All suspensions are without pay, so the suspension will cost Ramirez, who re-signed with the Dodgers as a free agent on a two-year contract that was to pay him $25 million this season, roughly $7.7 million.
Ramirez has been a key component in leading the Dodgers to the best record in baseball this year. In 27 games, he is batting .348 with six home runs and 20RBIs. He is among league leaders in slugging and on-base percentage and has become the biggest drawing card the Dodgers have had since Fernando Valenzuela, even recently having a portion of the left-field box seats rechristened "Mannywood."
Wednesday night, Ramirez went 1-for-3 with a two-run double as the Dodgers set a modern-day record with their 13th consecutive home win to open a season.
Juan Pierre would be the immediate replacement for Ramirez in left field, while the Dodgers are expected to promote rookie Xavier Paul from Triple-A Albuqueruque to replace Ramirez on the active roster.
Apart from whatever light this sheds on Ramirez (I'm inclined to believe his explanation because I simply do not believe that Manny is the type of guys who does PED, but I could very well be wrong), is this a severe blow to the Dodgers' chances of winning their division? They already enjoy a 6.5 games lead over the next team and while the absent of Ramirez certainly weakens them, you could make the case that they are still the best team in the division without him or at least they are very close. As long as these news do not bring too much turmoil to the clubhouse - and unless they start a long losing streak, why would it? - the Dodgers should be fine in the long run.