(AP) — Manny Ramirez visited his Dodgers teammates before their game against San Diego on Tuesday night, popping into the clubhouse before a home game for the first time since his suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s drug policy.
The dreadlocked slugger, who also talked to manager Joe Torre, told reporters he isn’t going to formally address the media about what led to his 50-game ban because it’s in the past.
“I don’t want to be a distraction for this team,” Ramirez said. “What happened, happened. I spoke to (owner) Frank McCourt, I apologized, I spoke to Joe, my teammates and I’m ready to move on.
“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’s first contact with his teammates came during a road trip in mid-May while the team was playing the Florida Marlins not far from his home. He has been working out at Dodger Stadium in the morning for the past week, but has been keeping a low profile since his suspension was announced on May 7.
Torre acknowledged that Ramirez’s visit surprised him.
“I can’t speak for everybody else, but it did me,” Torre said. “We had heard that he would possibly show up last week — and he has been showing up, but not when we’re here. But, again, I still think he’s uneasy being around, until he starts playing again. That’s what he wants to do.”
Los Angeles is 18-12 since Ramirez was suspended, and entered the game against the Padres with a major league-best 39-20 record. Juan Pierre has started each game in left with Ramirez out, and is batting .362 with 18 RBIs and 12 stolen bases in that stretch.
Ramirez said he has kept in touch with his teammates while he has been away.
“Sometimes after the games I’ll call my guys like (James) Loney and say ‘Hi,’ and if I see something wrong, what he’s doing, I’ll call him,” 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. Everything’s good, man.”
Barring any rainouts, Ramirez is eligible to come back July 3 at San Diego. He hasn’t talked with Torre yet about a minor league rehab stint, but said he’ll probably need one.
“I’m just happy to be back and talking with the guys,” he said. “I’ve been hitting and running the bases. When they go on the road I’ll stay here, working out.”