- Joe McDonald, ESPN Staff Writer
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BOSTON -- It didn't take long for the Boston Red Sox players to learn that former teammate Manny Ramirez had decided to retire after, sources told ESPN.com, he violated Major League Baseball's drug policy for the second time in a year and a half and was facing a 100-game suspension.
"It's crazy, man," Ortiz said. "That was the last thing I was expecting, for him to retire and go through this situation. I don't really know the details and how everything went down. I'm just waiting how the rest of the stuff is going to come out.
"It's sad, man, to see a player with that much talent, and an unbelievable career, to get him out of the game with negativity."
Ramirez served a 50-game suspension at the start of the 2010 season while with the Los Angeles Dodgers for violating MLB's policy. The league released a statement Friday afternoon.
"Major League Baseball recently notified Manny Ramirez of an issue under Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Rather than continue with the process under the Program, Ramirez has informed MLB that he is retiring as an active player. 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."
Because Ortiz addressed the situation immediately following Friday's game, he didn't have all the details, but he still defended Ramirez's abilities on the field.
"If you see Manny from the outside, your thoughts will be totally different," Ortiz said. "But if you play with Manny Ramirez, I guarantee you you're going to look at a hard-working guy, the guy who tried to get better every single day. He's got his issues, but as a player, he did what he was supposed to."
Ramirez signed with the Tampa Bay Rays as a free agent in the offseason and was expected to help the Rays compete in the American League East this season. He went 1-for-17 in five games before this announcement.
When the Red Sox faced the Rays during spring training, Ortiz said, it was good to see Ramirez in such good shape and that he was hitting the ball well.
"When I saw him, seriously, I saw him in the best shape I have ever seen him in," Ortiz said. "When you watch him hit, you were like, 'Wow. He's back.' He played a few games against us, and the talk in our dugout was the way he [was] dealing with hitting and his approach. That was the Manny Ramirez that everybody knows."
Current Red Sox reliever Bobby Jenks played with Ramirez in Chicago after the White Sox claimed him off waivers this past August. Ramirez played 24 games in Chicago. Jenks said he was surprised to hear the news.
"Very. I got a chance to play with him and I really thought he was an outstanding guy," Jenks said. "He's a great guy, a good teammate and down to earth for being such a superstar, which I thought was pretty cool because I didn't know what to expect.
"It's sad. He will go down as one of the best right-handed hitters in the game."
Jenks was asked about Ramirez reportedly testing positive for a second time.
"Yeah, he got banged with 50 games, why try again? A little stupid, but I guess he made his own decision," Jenks said.
Red Sox veteran Mike Cameron was also stunned by the news.
"It's his own personal situation, and I can't try to sit up here and crucify another man because of the situation," Cameron said. "He's one of the greatest right-handed hitters of our time, and it's sad he has to cut it short prematurely. I wish him well."
Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon played with Ramirez for parts of three seasons, including on the 2007 World Series team. After Friday's game, Papelbon had no idea of the current situation.
"I don't have anything," he said. "Happy retirement, I guess."
"He's a great right-handed hitter," Papelbon added. "It's kind of sad it goes that way for him now. I don't know what to say."
The news even resonated in the visitors clubhouse at Fenway Park after the game. Current Yankees catcher Russell Martin was Ramirez's teammate with the Dodgers.
"That sucks. Well, it's good for us, but it sucks for him," Martin said. "He's a good guy; I think he's just misunderstood a little bit. From what I've seen of Manny, his work ethic's incredible, he comes to play every day and he has fun playing the game. And sometimes, on defense, when he makes a mistake, he overdoes it sometimes, but he has a passion for the game and I learned a lot from him, especially hitting-wise."
Joe McDonald covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.
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