Friday, April 8, 2011
Posted: 6:48 p.m. Updated: 8:26 p.m.
By Brett Ballantini
As the White Sox clubhouse opened on Friday, news had just broken about Manny Ramirezs retirement from baseball. Ramirez played the last month of the 2010 season, appearing in 24 games with the White Sox and posting a .739 OPS.
Major League Baseball notified Ramirez of an issue under its drug program and Ramirez opted to retire rather than face another 100-game suspension.
To me, its none of my business, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. It shows people that major league baseball is after drug users. Theyre not playing around. Theyre letting the players know how tough theyre going to be.
Despite his underperformance for the White Sox in 2010, Guillen continues to insist he was a terrific addition to the team.
Manny, as a friend, as his former manager, he was great for the game, Guillen said. Hes done a lot of great things for baseball. He was one of the best hitters to play the game. He played good for us last yearI wish he could have played better. He was great in the clubhouse. I dont have any complaints or regrets to have him with the ballclub. Everything was great for us.
Longtime teammate Omar Vizquel (1994-2000) also lamented the loss, saying, He was unreal. He was one of the most feared guys with runners in scoring position."
Vizquel also opined that Ramirez may have had an ulterior motive in his latest positive drug test.
The drug suspension is a really touchy thing these days; everybody knows about the circumstances and the way that you are penalized about, Vizquel said. I guess he realized that he couldnt play anymore and he was just trying to find a way out. And he found it.
As supportive of Ramirez as Guillen was, he endorsed swift and serious punishment for anyone who flaunts the rules.
If you get caught, you should be punished, because weve known for the last five or six years theyre after this, and any players who take drugs are taking a risk.
Ramirez ditches his one-year, 2 million contract with the Rays, having lasted five games and putting up a 1-for-17 line for his final season.
We are obviously surprised and disappointed by this news, Tampa said in a statement.
A great player retired, but I believe it is a galvanizing moment for us, Rays manager Joe Maddon tweeted before tonights game.
Ramirez played for 19 years, compiling 2,574 hits, 1,831 RBI and a .996 OPS (ninth-highest ever). His 555 home runs place him 14th all-time.
I dont see anyone better than him, maybe Frank Thomas, Edgar Martinezthere were a few out there, Guillen said. I dont know him personally, and only knew him about a month, and we never had any kind of conversation about how good his career was. But everybody knows Manny was a good player. He was pretty good before he got caught.
"When Manny came to the big leagues in a Cleveland uniform, he was an outstanding player," Guillen continued. "Its easy to kick a guy in the rear end when hes down. To me, he was a great player. Should he be in the Hall of Fame? Ive got my own opinion. Like I said, he was very good. He had a great career.
Guillen has long backed the notion that players and fans move on quickly once a drug suspension is announced, but he isnt nave enough to believe that this is the end of baseballs drug drama.
The end of drugs is what we pray forwe have a lot of fans out there, and I know the commissioner and Major League Baseball are working very hard on eliminating drugs, Guillen said. I hope it will be the last one. Will it be the last one? I doubt it. There are a lot of names out thereevery time you read the paper, somebody is out there. I'm glad I dont know any of those guysI played against them. I hope they go after those guys, make this game clean, and make this game what people what to see.
Bobby Jenks tells WEEI.com's Kirk Minihane that his former White Sox teammate is "a really good guy" but didn't mince words about Ramirez's situation.
"You do it, you get caught, youre an idiot. If you do it again youre a dumbass, said Jenks. I mean, its sad to see. One of the greatest hitters, or one of them, to make the same mistake twice, same bad choice."
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen wasnt too optimistic about slugger Adam Dunn returning to action soon.
Weve got to wait five days, I have to, Guillen said before Friday nights game. Every day he feels better and better but I dont expect him to be back in five days, to be honest with you.
Dunn initially called Guillen on the day of his appendectomy (Wednesday) offering to pinch-hit, but Guillen dismissed that notion.
Hopefully, we dont have to pinch-hit Dunn, he said. I'd rather lose a game than lose a guy for another month. If I have to pinch-hit Adam Dunn with the game on the line, I'd rather lose the game rather than have him hurt himself and lose him for we don't know how long.
The Peavy Effect is also in action on Dunn, as Guillen is unwilling to rush the genial giant back into the lineup.
He's got to hit, Guillen said. He's got to show me, the doctors, trainers, Kenny. He's got to show a lot of people hes OK. He's got to show his hitting coach. When everybody says he's ready, he's in the lineup. Obviously, we want him in the lineupbut weve got to be careful.
With the first two home games featuring weather hovering around 40 degrees, the challenge of playing through the cold was addressed by Guillen.
I just talked to a couple of players about the cold, he said. I dont want to hear any players crying, because we because we get paid pretty good Shut up, I dont want to hear it. When you play in Chicago or the East, that's what you're going to get.
Guillen tends to work himself up at times, and discussing the weather did so today.
We get paid pretty goodplease, Guillen said. If it's too humid or too wet, I dont want anybody out there just to be there. I want all my players to play the game right. Rain or shine, we get paid to play, and we've got to go out there and do the best for the fans.
Teahens new role
Early in the season, Guillen worried about getting at-bats for just one player, Mark Teahen. And when Dunn had his appendix removed, the manager predicted that the lefthander would get the majority of Dunns vacated at-bats.
Still, Friday marked Teahens first start at DH in Dunns absence. In fact, Teahen has DHd only 12 times in his career heading into Fridays game. But he didnt sound too concerned about adjusting to playing a game without being in the game.
Its different, he said. I havent DHd a ton, but at the same time, its nothing too strange.
Teahen historically has had trouble adjusting to the role, however. Acknowledging the small sample of just 44 plate appearances, Teahen seems to lose his power stroke as a DH. His .270 average as a DH is a couple ticks above his career mark (.268), but two doubles represent all his extra-base hits at DH, thus his advanced numbers (.349 on-base, .324 slugging) pale compared against his .746 career OPS.
On a night like tonight, I just mainly try to stay warm in between at-bats, Teahen said. Come in and do a little cardio to stay warm.
The stationary bike worked wonders; on Friday, Teahen had hits in his first two at-bats, including his first home run as a DH.
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.