Roger Mooney covers the Tampa Bay Rays for The Tampa Tribune, TBO.com and News Channel 8. He has covered the Rays since their first season in 1998, including 11 years for the Bradenton Herald. Roger has also covered Florida, South Florida and Florida State football, the Bucs and the Lightning.
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Manny a Ray? Don’t think so
Posted Dec 5, 2011 by Roger Mooney
Updated Dec 5, 2011 at 11:21 AM
DALLAS Manny Ramirez wants back in, and he might actually draw interest from some teams who could use a right-handed power bat in the heart of their lineup.
The Rays could use just that, but don’t expect them to seriously pursue their former DH.
Ramirez infamously retired as a Ray last April when he failed baseball’s performance enhancing drug policy for a second time rather than serve the 100-game suspension that comes with a second failed test.
Now Ramirez wants one more shot, and Major League Baseball reduced his suspension to 50 games.
Ramirez signed with the team on Feb. 1 as part of a two-for-one deal that included Johnny Damon, his former teammate with the Red Sox.
Damon came along to play left field and babysit the volatile Ramirez. It was a perfect arrangement during spring training when Ramirez was the model player. To the Rays, Manny being Manny meant 8 a.m. trips to the batting cage, giving left field a serious try and asking to go on road trips so he could get the extra at-bats.
Then came the drug testers and Manny was gone.
Damon became the DH and clubhouse leader and the rest was baseball history as the Rays became the first team ever to overcome a 9 ½ game deficit in September and reach the postseason.
Damon played a major role in the comeback, acting as the calming, positive voice in the clubhouse as the Rays chased down the Red Sox.
Damon, a free agent, wants to return to the Rays, and the Rays would like to have him back, but first they want to see if they can land a DH who can provide more power.
Ramirez is someone who could possibly do that, but he missed most of last season and is years removed from his prime.
To sign him would be a gamble that he still has some gas in the tank (scouts who saw Ramirez last spring said he could no longer catch up to a fastball) and can pass a drug test (he’s already failed two).
It also means they won’t need Damon, which means they won’t have anyone to babysit Ramirez.
Also, the Rays would have to wait until the end of May when Ramirez’s suspension expires before penciling him in the lineup. How exactly will that help?
The Rays were burned once by Manny. It’s doubtful they would want the chance to be burned a second time.