Manny Ramirez, breaking his public silence since being suspended May 7 for violating baseball’s drug policy, said Tuesday that the incident was “in the past” and that he wanted to “move on.”
The Dodgers’ slugger said he had no plans to publicly explain exactly how he violated Major League Baseball’s policy against using banned substances.
Ramirez also conceded he let down his fans, but said he would “make it up” by leading “this team to another level” after his suspension ends July 3.
“Whatever happened, that’s in the past and I’m coming to play my game,” Ramirez said a few hours before the Dodgers hit four home runs to beat the San Diego Padres, 6-4, at Dodger Stadium. “I don’t want to be a distraction for this team.
“I spoke to Frank McCourt, I apologized, I spoke to Joe, my teammates and I’m ready to move on,” he said of the club’s owner and Manager Joe Torre.
“I didn’t kill nobody, I didn’t rape nobody, so that’s it, I’m just going to come and play the game,” Ramirez said.
Asked if he was sorry for his actions, the 37-year-old All-Star outfielder replied, “That’s what I said.”
His comments came during an impromptu meeting with a handful of reporters in the Dodgers’ clubhouse, where a cheerful Ramirez greeted and hugged several teammates before they took batting practice ahead of their game against the Padres.
Ramirez, whose suspension requires that he leave the stadium before the public gates open, has been hitting, running and otherwise working out at the stadium to prepare for his return, but usually before his teammates arrive.
His appearance in the clubhouse caught even Torre off guard.
Asked if it surprised him, Torre said, “I can’t speak for everybody else, but it did me. We had heard that he would possibly show up last week, and he has been showing up” at Dodger Stadium to practice.
But, Torre added, “not when we’re here.”
Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal, whose locker is next to Ramirez’s, said “it was pretty good to have him be around us, saying hello to all his teammates.”
Asked how fans would react upon his return, Ramirez said, “I’m happy that they support me, that they love me here. They know I let them down but I come back, I make it up and we move on. That’s all I can do.
“It’s going to be fun, it’s going to be crazy,” Ramirez said as he sat in a chair in front of his locker. “I love it, I’m looking forward to it. I’ll be ready to go.”
He said he had not yet talked to Torre about a stint in the minor leagues to ready himself for his return, but that “I’ll probably need it, go out and play for a week or whatever.”
Torre said that likely would be decided after the club returns from a three-game series against the Rangers in Texas that ends Sunday.
“When they go on the road, I’ll stay here working out,” Ramirez said.
Ramirez tested positive for significantly elevated levels of testosterone, and a subsequent investigation uncovered a prescription for another banned substance, HCG.
Ramirez accepted the suspension based on the indisputable evidence of the prescription.
He has not spoken publicly about the matter beyond a statement that noted the suspension was for “a medication, not a steroid” for a “personal health issue.” Anti-doping experts say HCG is often taken to raise testosterone levels after a cycle of steroids.
Ramirez, with 533 career home runs, also was asked if he thought the suspension would taint his achievements in baseball.
“I don’t think so,” he replied. “I’ll be fine, I’ll be fine, I just want to come and play and move on.”
Referring to his exile, Ramirez said “it’s not fun because you want to play, you want to win you want to help your team, but it is what it is.”
“They’ve been playing great,” he said of Dodgers, who have the best record in baseball and lead the National League West by 8 1/2 games.
He also said Juan Pierre, who has hit exceptionally well since taking over for Ramirez in left field, “is playing great. You’ve got to respect that.”
The Dodgers then beat San Diego (27-31) with two home runs by Andre Ethier and solo homers by Matt Kemp and Orlando Hudson in front of 35,313.
Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley (8-3) gave up three earned runs and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings to get the win.
And closer Jonathan Broxton gave up one run to the Padres in the ninth inning, the first run he’s allowed at Dodger Stadium this season.
But the Dodgers improved to 40-20, matching the team’s best mark to open the season since 1983.