Not just any baseball news would trump the Red Sox’ 9-6 victory over the Yankees in their home opener after six straight road losses to open the season.
But Manny Ramirez’s sudden retirement — after the MLB announced he was facing a second suspension in the league’s drug prevention and treatment program — might have done just that, even within the Red Sox’ locker room.
David Ortiz, who teamed with Ramirez from 2003-08 to form the most dynamic middle-of-the-order tandem of this era and who also endured his own allegations of PED use, said he was stunned by the news.
“It’s just crazy, man,” said Ortiz, “That was the last thing I was expecting, for him to retire and go through all of that situation. I don’t really know the details, how everything went down. I’m just like you guys here. I’m just going to stop and wait for that stuff to come out. It’s sad, man, to see a player with that much talent and with an unbelievable career, to get him out of the game with negativity.”
Ortiz said that for all of the drama that accompanied Ramirez when he was a member of the Red Sox, his work ethic when it came to hitting should never be questioned.
“If you see Manny from the outside, your task will be totally different,” Ortiz said. “But if you play with Manny Ramirez, I guarantee you that you’re going to look at a hard-working guy, a guy that tried to get better every day. He’s got his issues, like everybody knows. But as a player, he did what he was supposed to do.”
Kevin Youkilis, who played with Ramirez from 2004 until the slugger was dealt to the Dodgers at the July 31 trade deadline in 2008, said his respect for his former teammate has a hitter never waned.
“I don’t know why he retired, but the guy had one of the best careers and Hall of Fame numbers and all that,” said Youkilis, who had a much-publicized dust-up with Ramirez in the Sox dugout the month before he was traded. “He’s a guy who will go down as one of the greatest righthanded hitters of all-time. He had a great stretch.”
Youkilis compared Manny to another disgraced slugger, Barry Bonds.
“There’s so much stuff on the drug thing, from stuff you can get at the drug store,” he said. “You never know what it is. … I always said, guys that get caught for stuff, this game’s hard. . . . If you look back on Barry Bonds and all the stuff he’s going through and supposedly what he did, if you saw the guy hit, it was like no other. The guy would see 15 pitches, and the catcher would hold his hand out and he’d get one pitch and it would be a home run. Manny was the same way.”