By Dave Skretta
AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK — Unwilling to face another drug ban, Manny Ramirez is leaving baseball and is at peace with his decision while the sport confronts the specter of steroids again.
“I’m at ease,” Ramirez told ESPNdeportes.com by phone from his home in Miami. “God knows what’s best (for me). I’m now an officially retired baseball player. I’ll be going away on a trip to Spain with my old man.”
One of the game’s great sluggers, Ramirez tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance and wasted little time in saying he was done with the game.
He retired Friday rather than face a 100-game suspension for a second violation of Major League Baseball’s drug policy. The 12-time All-Star served a 50-game ban in 2009 while with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Second-time offenders get double that penalty.
A person familiar with the situation confirmed to The Associated Press that Ramirez tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the nature of Ramirez’s issue with MLB’s drug policy was not publicly disclosed.
The commissioner’s office announced its decision in a statement, providing few details and saying it would have no further comment.
“Major League Baseball recently notified Manny Ramirez of an issue under Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program,” MLB said. “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.”
Some in baseball were baffled that Ramirez would get caught again violating the drug policy. Others were upset that baseball is still dealing with the questions of steroid use with the current trial of Barry Bonds and the upcoming trial of Roger Clemens.
“Any time that this comes up, it’s kind of a black eye for baseball,” New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Saturday. “It’s sad that we keep trying to put this behind us, this era that they talk about, and it just keeps resurfacing — the trials coming up, you have what happened with Manny and, you know, it’s sad because you want the game to be clean.”
Others were disappointed another player walked away in shame.
“Until the past couple of years, I thought he was on his way to the Hall of Fame,” Texas manager Ron Washington said.