Friday, April 8, 2011
Posted: 9:01 p.m.
By Patrick Mooney
MILWAUKEE Alfonso Soriano once had a tryout with the Indians, at a time when Manny Ramirez was just starting to build his legacy in Cleveland. The young Soriano looked at Ramirez and thought: Man, I want to be like him one day.
It all came to an end Friday, when Major League Baseball announced that Ramirez has decided to retire, instead of dealing with a reported 100-game suspension for a second positive test for a banned substance.
What he did surprised me, Soriano said. There are a lot of players (using that) I never think would. Its very sad (when) an All-Star guy maybe future Hall of Famer does that. Its sad for the game, its sad for the player.
The 38-year-old Ramirez can forget about his place in Cooperstown, even with 555 career home runs and MVP votes in 11 different seasons. The questions are why such a gifted hitter would need extra help, and how a player who has made more than 200 million in his career could risk his reputation again after the first positive test.
Everybody has their talent to play this game, Soriano said. I dont know why people want to use something (else). Its what you got thats it. Just play (as) who you are, what God gave to you.
The Cubs havent forgotten that Ramirez crushed them in the 2008 playoffs, leading the Dodgers to a three-game sweep. Ramirez went 5-for-10 with two homers and four walks during that series and became a star in Hollywood.
But that player has faded away. Ramirez was reduced to a singles hitter late last season for the White Sox, and opened this season at 1-for-17 with Tampa Bay.
Soriano knows Ramirez mostly through chatting before games when they were part of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, and doesnt hang out with him during the offseason in the Dominican Republic. Like everyone else, hes left guessing.
I dont understand why he did it, Soriano said. Hes got so much talent I dont think he needs it.
The Cubs had eight arms ready in the bullpen on Friday night and theyll need all the help they can get now that Andrew Cashner (rotator cuff strain) and Randy Wells (forearm strain) are officially on the disabled list.
The Cubs recalled right-handed reliever Jeff Stevens from Triple-A Iowa on Friday and manager Mike Quade confirmed that Casey Coleman will start Sunday against the Brewers. Theyll have to piece it together on Tuesday in Houston.
It starts with James Russell, who will throw somewhere in the range of three innings and 45 pitches before turning the game over to whoevers available out of the bullpen. Someone else will have to build the bridge to Sean Marshall, Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol.
The manager isnt going to ask for more from Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza and Carlos Zambrano, or worry about the front of the rotation trying to do too much.
Theyve been down this road before, Quade said. Every rotation in the history of baseball (has) gotten into some trouble at some point. (Despite losing) two starters, they know whos behind them bullpen-wise. Its got to be pretty comforting to be a starter here and knowing what kind of bullpen we have.
PatrickMooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.