BOSTON -- Joe Maddon was looking forward to seeing what he and the Tampa Bay Rays could get out of Manny Ramirez.
Of course, after Ramirez tested positive for a banned substance this spring and elected to abruptly retire last Friday rather than face the consequences, Maddon will never know.
"I mean this very sincerely -- I really enjoyed him,'' said Maddon before Monday night's game with the Red Sox. "We had a lot of good conversations in spring training. I really thought he was going to help us this year a lot. Obviously, it's not going to turn out that way. But from me to him personally, it was very good. Organizationally, it's not so good because we counted om him to become the No. 4 hitter.
"We're making all kinds of adjustments right now. But on a one-to-one basis, he was very good.''
Maddon was under the impression that Ramirez, after taking care of a family issue, was working out at a facility in Chicago, where the Rays were playing the White Sox. He had Ramirez's name in the cleanup spot that night when he got a call from general manager Andrew Freidman informing him of Ramirez's positive test results and subsequent decision to quit.
"It's a letdown, obviously'' acknowledged Maddon. "We were counting on him. Like I said, I really felt good about him. I thought he was moving very well, I thought he was interacting with us well, I thought he was happy from all the indicators I had. I really thought it was going to benefit all of us, but we never had that chance.''
Ramirez has had trouble with all five of the clubs for which he played in his career, but Maddon -- like others before him -- thought it would be different.
"You always do,'' said Maddon. "You have to approach it like it's going to be different. You can't approach it waiting for the other shoe to fall. You know that it may, but I wasn't anticipating it. I really thought we had gotten off to a good start with Ramirez.
"You always feel that you can be the one who can make somewhat of a difference. But in this situation, we could not.''
Maddon spoke with Ramirez last Friday after the veteran slugger's decision to retire.
"Briefly, we spoke,'' said Maddon. "I didn't expect that to happen because he and I had only been together for a brief period of time. He was very kind in his comments. He expressed disappointment in himself to me, but also had really high praise about us as an organization.''
Maddon added that Ramirez didn't offer an apology, but "just said he was disappointed. I wasn't looking for an apology, actually. He spoke to me man-to-man, player-to-manager, so I didn't think he owed me an apology.''
Meanwhile, drama aside, the poor start -- the Jays were 1-8 before Monday with a .150 batting average with runners in scoring position -- had the Rays in last place in A.L. East, but Maddon wasn't about to panic.
"The consolation prize is that the Sox have been struggling, too,'' he said. "You have the ascension of the Blue Jays and Orioles, but you don't know how that's going to turn out over the long haul. If the Sox and Yankees were running away with everything right now, it might be a little bit disconcerting. The fact that we're a little stacked in the division is more promising.''
Maddon noted that when the Rays went to the World Series in 2008, they weathered two seven-game losing streaks. But because the poor stretch of play has taken place in the first two weeks of the season, more attention is paid to it.
"It's exaggerated -- I get it,'' he said. "Do we want to be in this place? No. I didn't anticipate it. But we've got to keep working through it and believe that we're going to come out on the other side. And I do.''