It was short, uncomfortable and, in the view of some teammates, totally unnecessary. But even after Manny Ramirez apologized to Dodgers players and coaches at the team’s beachfront hotel Friday, the controversy surrounding the suspended slugger isn’t over.
“I think it’s going to play out for a while,” Manager Joe Torre said. “My advice to him was, it is what it is. Don’t hide from it. Just basically deal with it and move on.”
Ramirez’s meeting with the Dodgers was his first since May 7, when he was suspended 50 games for violating baseball’s drug policy. It took place an hour before the first team bus left the hotel for Land Shark Stadium, where the Dodgers rallied for a 6-4 win over the Florida Marlins, and lasted less than 10 minutes, with Ramirez and the Torre the only ones to speak.
“It was uncomfortable. He was a little anxious,” Torre said of Ramirez, who according to players and coaches went around the room greeting teammates with a handshake or a hug. “I sensed an uneasiness that I hadn’t seen before from Manny.”
Although Torre refused to discuss specifics of what took place behind closed doors in a fourth-floor conference room at the Trump International Beach Resort in Sunny Isles Beach, he said Ramirez -- who has a house in South Florida -- was contrite and apologetic about his suspension, which will keep him on the sidelines until at least July 3.
“He’s remorseful. And embarrassed,” Torre said. “He just wanted to let the team know how sorry he is for that and for the fact that he’s not there for them.”
And while his teammates accepted the apology, many said it wasn’t necessary.
“Nobody needed it or expected it,” said third baseman Casey Blake, who considered Ramirez’s apology “heartfelt.”
“He made a mistake and stood up to it and we all understand that. We just greeted him, shook his hand and said ‘what’s up?’ ”
Added reliever Cory Wade, who worked out of a bases-loaded eighth-inning jam to preserve Friday’s win:
“The situation has been [made] bigger than what it really was as far as the team aspect goes. We still support him. He’s our teammate. It wasn’t like I wanted an apology. He was in a bad situation. He [owned] up to it. And it’s over.”
First baseman James Loney said the meeting may have been more for Ramirez’s benefit than for the team’s.
“Maybe he feels better,” Loney said. “But it wasn’t like something where we were, ‘Oh my goodness! Hope he comes and apologizes.’ ”
Coach Mark Sweeney said he understood that sentiment. But he still considered the apology important.
“It kind of was a little necessary,” he said. “Not that we expected anything different. I think it was good for him to do it. Because it was a grown man saying, ‘You know, I accept my responsibility. I’m sorry.’
“It’s kind of like, ‘Let’s move on.’ And I think that’s what was good about it. Moving it on.”
Torre said Ramirez still has a couple of more hurdles to clear before that happens. Although he has now addressed the team, Ramirez has yet to speak to the fans or the media since his suspension, something his manager believes should happen soon.
Torre also believes Ramirez will benefit from working out at Dodger Stadium, which could happen as early as next week when the team returns home.
“When he’s . . . there on a regular basis, it won’t be startling when he shows up. It won’t be as dramatic,” Torre said.
The challenge for the Dodgers, meanwhile, will be to continue proving they can win without their best hitter.
“We like our team with or without him,” said Blake, whose team-best eighth home run started the Dodgers to their third consecutive win Friday, improving their major league-best record to 25-12.
“If he was on the disabled list, you’re not going to have him,” added Torre. “We know we’re pretty good. And I think these players have learned this week how to go about it without him.
“I’m just glad today has come and we got through it. It was something we had to do.”
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