Manny Ramirez: Tampa Bay Rays Slugger Hangs Up the Spikes Amidst New Drug Issues
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Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Manny Ramirez officially announced his retirement from Major League Baseball on April 8 after an outstanding 19-year career, for much of which he was considered to be the best right-handed hitter in the game.
The later years of the slugger’s career would ultimately cast a pale shadow of suspicion on many of his 555 career home runs, as he served a 50 game suspension for violating MLB’s policies on performance-enhancing drugs in 2009, coupled with allegations that his name was amongst the 104 on a list of players who tested positive for PED’s in 2003.
Ramirez’s retirement is the result of another violation of the league’s drug policy, according to a statement released by Major League Baseball.
"Rather than continue with the process under the program, Ramirez has informed MLB that he is retiring as an active player," the statement says. "If Ramirez seeks reinstatement in the future, the process under the Drug Program will be completed. MLB will not have any further comment on this matter."
Manny was 1-for-17 with Tampa this year, after inking a free agent deal with the club during the offseason. His career ends with 1,831 RBI and a .312 batting average, in addition to the hefty home run numbers. A 12-time All Star, including 10 selections in a row between 1998 and 2008, Manny also won nine Silver Slugger Awards, two Hank Aaron Awards, two World Series rings with the Boston Red Sox and was named the series MVP in 2004, as Boston put an 86-year curse to bed.
Beginning his career with the Cleveland Indians in 1993, Manny became an instant favorite when he signed an eight-year $160 million dollar contract with the Red Sox in December of 2000. The Boston fans took to him immediately, forgiving much of his quirky and enigmatic behavior with a shrug of the shoulders and the infamous refrain of: “It’s just Manny being Manny.”
By 2008, after a physical altercation with the club’s traveling secretary Jack McCormack, and Manny pulling himself from the lineup against the New York Yankees in July, Boston was getting weary of “Manny being Manny.” Not long after, the aging slugger was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers for outfielder Jason Bay and a minor league infielder, in a deal that also involved the Pittsburgh Pirates who received infielder Adam LaRoche and pitching prospect Bryan Morris from LA, while the Red Sox sent along Brandon Moss and Craig Hanson to Pittsburgh.
After starting off well in LA, hitting at a torrid pace to close 2008, he inked a two-year $45 million deal to remain with the Dodgers.
On May 7, 2009, Ramirez was hit with the massive 50-game ban.
He returned in 2010, but was riddled with injury. The Dodgers placed him on waivers and the slugger was claimed by the Chicago White Sox. Appearing in just 24 games for the Pale Hose, he signed a one-year $2 million contract with Tampa on Jan. 21 of this year.
His abrupt retirement ends his Rays career after just six games.
Destined to be one of the players whose Hall of Fame candidacy is a hotly contested issue because of the stain of PEDs, Manny still stands a decent chance of getting in based upon his stellar career numbers. However, he will most likely have to wait a few years past his initial eligibility unless there is a drastic shift in the attitude of the BBWA’s voters.
While his retirement may come as a bit of a shock, the fresh drug allegations should not. Over the course of his career, history has shown this is just “Manny being Manny.”
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