Red Sox

Maddon on Ramirez: 'We were counting on him'

223043.jpg

Maddon on Ramirez: 'We were counting on him'

By SeanMcAdam
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- Joe Maddon was looking forward to seeing what he and the Tampa Bay Rays could get out of Manny Ramirez.

Of course, after Ramirez tested positive for a banned substance this spring and elected to abruptly retire last Friday rather than face the consequences, Maddon will never know.

"I mean this very sincerely -- I really enjoyed him,'' said Maddon before Monday night's game with the Red Sox. "We had a lot of good conversations in spring training. I really thought he was going to help us this year a lot. Obviously, it's not going to turn out that way. But from me to him personally, it was very good. Organizationally, it's not so good because we counted om him to become the No. 4 hitter.

"We're making all kinds of adjustments right now. But on a one-to-one basis, he was very good.''

Maddon was under the impression that Ramirez, after taking care of a family issue, was working out at a facility in Chicago, where the Rays were playing the White Sox. He had Ramirez's name in the cleanup spot that night when he got a call from general manager Andrew Freidman informing him of Ramirez's positive test results and subsequent decision to quit.

"It's a letdown, obviously'' acknowledged Maddon. "We were counting on him. Like I said, I really felt good about him. I thought he was moving very well, I thought he was interacting with us well, I thought he was happy from all the indicators I had. I really thought it was going to benefit all of us, but we never had that chance.''

Ramirez has had trouble with all five of the clubs for which he played in his career, but Maddon -- like others before him -- thought it would be different.

"You always do,'' said Maddon. "You have to approach it like it's going to be different. You can't approach it waiting for the other shoe to fall. You know that it may, but I wasn't anticipating it. I really thought we had gotten off to a good start with Ramirez.

"You always feel that you can be the one who can make somewhat of a difference. But in this situation, we could not.''

Maddon spoke with Ramirez last Friday after the veteran slugger's decision to retire.

"Briefly, we spoke,'' said Maddon. "I didn't expect that to happen because he and I had only been together for a brief period of time. He was very kind in his comments. He expressed disappointment in himself to me, but also had really high praise about us as an organization.''

Maddon added that Ramirez didn't offer an apology, but "just said he was disappointed. I wasn't looking for an apology, actually. He spoke to me man-to-man, player-to-manager, so I didn't think he owed me an apology.''

Meanwhile, drama aside, the poor start -- the Jays were 1-8 before Monday with a .150 batting average with runners in scoring position -- had the Rays in last place in A.L. East, but Maddon wasn't about to panic.

"The consolation prize is that the Sox have been struggling, too,'' he said. "You have the ascension of the Blue Jays and Orioles, but you don't know how that's going to turn out over the long haul. If the Sox and Yankees were running away with everything right now, it might be a little bit disconcerting. The fact that we're a little stacked in the division is more promising.''

Maddon noted that when the Rays went to the World Series in 2008, they weathered two seven-game losing streaks. But because the poor stretch of play has taken place in the first two weeks of the season, more attention is paid to it.

"It's exaggerated -- I get it,'' he said. "Do we want to be in this place? No. I didn't anticipate it. But we've got to keep working through it and believe that we're going to come out on the other side. And I do.''

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

HOFer Joe Morgan's letter urges voters to keep steroid users out of Hall

cincinnati-reds-joe-morgan-hall-of-fame.jpg

HOFer Joe Morgan's letter urges voters to keep steroid users out of Hall

Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan is urging voters to keep “known steroid users” out of Cooperstown.

A day after the Hall revealed its 33-man ballot for the 2018 class, the 74-year-old Morgan argued against the inclusion of players implicated during baseball’s steroid era in a letter to voters with the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The letter from the vice chairman of the Hall’s board of directors was sent Tuesday using a Hall email address.

Read the full text of Morgan's letter here. 

“Steroid users don’t belong here,” Morgan wrote. “What they did shouldn’t be accepted. Times shouldn’t change for the worse.”

Hall voters have been wrestling with the issue of performance-enhancing drugs for several years. Baseball held a survey drug test in 2003 and the sport began testing for banned steroids the following year with penalties. Accusations connected to some of the candidates for the Hall vary in strength from allegations with no evidence to positive tests that caused suspensions.

About 430 ballots are being sent to voters, who must have been members of the BBWAA for 10 consecutive years, and a player needs at least 75 percent for election. Ballots are due by Dec. 31 and results will be announced Jan. 24.

Writers who had not been covering the game for more than a decade were eliminated from the rolls in 2015, creating a younger electorate that has shown more willingness to vote for players tainted by accusations of steroid use. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens each received a majority of votes for the first time in 2017 in their fifth year on the ballot.

Morgan said he isn’t speaking for every Hall of Famer, but many of them feel the same way that he does.

“Players who failed drug tests, admitted using steroids, or were identified as users in Major League Baseball’s investigation into steroid abuse, known as the Mitchell Report, should not get in,” Morgan wrote. “Those are the three criteria that many of the players and I think are right.”

Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez were inducted into the Hall of Fame in July. They were joined by former Commissioner Bud Selig and retired Kansas City and Atlanta executive John Schuerholz, who were voted in by a veterans committee.

Some baseball writers said the election of Selig, who presided over the steroids era, influenced their view of whether tainted stars should gain entry to the Hall.

Morgan praised BBWAA voters and acknowledged they are facing a “tricky issue,” but he also warned some Hall of Famers might not make the trip to Cooperstown if steroid users are elected.

“The cheating that tainted an era now risks tainting the Hall of Fame too,” he wrote. “The Hall of Fame means too much to us to ever see that happen. If steroid users get in, it will divide and diminish the Hall, something we couldn’t bear.”

© 2017 by The Associated Press

MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement

mlb_rob_manfred_081414.jpg

MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Major League Baseball will change rules to speed games next year with or without an agreement with the players' association.

Management proposed last offseason to institute a 20-second pitch clock, allow one trip to the mound by a catcher per pitcher each inning and raise the bottom of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap. The union didn't agree, and clubs have the right to impose those changes unilaterally for 2018.

Players and MLB have held initial bargaining since summer, and MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem said this week he would like an agreement by mid-January.

"My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can't get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other," baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday after a quarterly owners' meeting.

Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the regular season and 3:29 during the postseason.