By Joe Haggerty
BOSTON Manny Ramirez clubbed 274 home runs and won a pair of World Series titles in his prolific Red Sox career, and his long-time teammates saw first hand how diligently the enigmatic slugger worked to become the beloved, quixotic Manny.
Thats why there seemed to be more an air of sadness than anything else when word of Ramirezs retirement filtered through the victorious postgame locker room Friday after the Sox finally secured their first victory of the 2011 season.
Many experienced first-hand the left fielders sour end to a marvelous, star-crossed tenure in Boston in 2008, and it looks like there's another unhappy ending unfolding for Man-Ram. Major League Baseball announced on Friday afternoon that Ramirez was retiring from the big leagues after reportedly failing a spring training drug test.
The failed test was going to carry a 100-game suspension, since he flunked a similar test during the 2009 season with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Ramirez quit his job with the Rays upon learning of the consequences.
One of his closest friends in baseball, David Ortiz, hoped there would be some kind of late-breaking news to help better understand Ramirezs final act of Manny Being Manny as an active player.
Its crazy, man. Thats the last thing I was expecting was for him to retire, and go through all of that situation, said Ortiz. I dont know all of the details. Im like you guys, and just hearing about it. Im just waiting for all of the rest of the stuff to come out. But its sad, man, that a player with that much talent and an unbelievable career . . . to get him out of the game with all of the negativity.
But well see.
Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon was a little blunter in his assessment as is within the fabric of his personality. Papelbon felt like Ramirez likely tossed away the 555 career homers, 12 All-Star appearances and .312 career batting average under the specter of performance-enhancing drugs. It would seem any Hall of Fame chances would go away along with the legitimacy of his baseball career unless theres some amazing new evidence thats yet to come to light.
It would seem there will always be a but beside all of Ramirezs accomplishments even those in Boston.
Its kind of sad that one of the best right-handers in the game is going to go down that way," said Papelbon. "Hes worked so hard to put himself into the situation hes in as one of the great hitters, and now hes gonna throw it all out the window.
I dont know much of whats going on with that, but Im not worried or thinking about it right now.
The Sox players clearly had other worries and concerns on their mind after starting the year with an 0-6 record, but the winning Sox locker room had a tinge of bittersweet emotion for a fallen ex-teammate that clearly had one more head-scratching move up his sleeve.