Manny and the Hall of Fame: Forget it, dude. But what of his legacy?

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Manny Ramirez has the statistical resume of a Hall of Famer. Now, in light of his second drug “issue” — which is being reported as a positive drug test — the viability of his candidacy is probably nil.  It may have been anyway given his 2009 PED suspension, but if there was any doubt about it, this has ended it.  Barring a sea change in the attitude of Hall of Fame voters — remember, these guys won’t vote for someone who they even suspect may have used PEDs –Ramirez will be a one-and-done candidate when his time comes up in a little over five years. Then he’ll be the Veterans’ Committee’s problem someday.

The real question about Manny Ramirez, then, is not whether he’s a Hall of Famer, but what his legacy as a player is beyond the yes/no world of Cooperstown politics.

His accomplishments are outstanding: 555 home runs. 1831 RBI. 2574 hits. A career line of .312/.411/.585. A .937 career postseason OPS and two World Series rings, one of which came with the 2004 Red Sox which, some argue, counts for more than your typical playoff jewelry given the historic nature of it all.

But he is also now and will forever be tainted by his PED suspension and this final, retirement-inducing “issue.”  He was a player of undeniable talent but one who, more than any other Hall of Fame-level performer, had his career correspond with the heightened offensive environment of what is now known as the PED era. He broke in as things went a bit nutty in 1993 and his time as an elite player ended almost exactly when he got caught by baseball’s drug testing program in 2009.

Manny Ramirez will almost certainly be characterized, at least in the short term, as a creation of PEDs.  This conclusion likely won’t explain how he was able to play at an elite level for four years after PED testing came online, and it will overlook the fact that, if his skills were purely the stuff of chemicals, few if any other players were able to do what he did.  I mean really, if one could take drugs to become a baseball player like Manny Ramirez, wouldn’t you expect to see more Manny Ramirezes around?

Time will help us sort that out, one way or the other. Time and perspective. We’ll have a better sense of what to make of Manny Ramirez some day. We have to.  Because God knows we’ve never had a good idea of what to make of him these past 18 years.

Steven Souza Jr. exits game after injuring his hand on a hit by pitch

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Rays’ right fielder Steven Souza Jr. left Saturday’s game after getting hit on the left hand by a pitch from Blue Jays’ right-hander Joe Biagini in the seventh inning. The pitch appeared to hit the top of Souza Jr.’s hand, causing the outfielder to crumple at the plate and requiring assistance from assistant athletic trainer Paul Harker as he exited the field. Postgame reports from the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin revealed that Souza Jr. sustained a left hand contusion and is scheduled to undergo further evaluation on Sunday.

While the diagnosis isn’t as bad as it could be, it’s still a tough break for the right fielder, who missed 40 days of the 2015 season after sustaining a fracture in his left hand on another hit by pitch. The team has yet to announce any concrete timetable for Souza Jr.’s return, though manager Kevin Cash indicated that they’ll be taking things day to day for the time being.

Souza Jr. is batting .326/.398/.543 with four home runs and 17 RBI through 104 PA in 2017. He went 1-for-2 with a base hit and a walk prior to his departure during Saturday’s 4-1 loss.

Video: Brett Gardner goes deep for his first and second home runs of 2017

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It’s been a slow start to the season for Yankees’ outfielder Brett Gardner, who entered Saturday’s matinee against the Orioles with a .188/.316/.234 batting line, three doubles and five stolen bases in his first 76 PA of the year. That all changed in the first inning of Saturday’s game, when Gardner skied a leadoff home run to right field:

Orioles’ right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez couldn’t find his footing against the Yankees in the second inning, either. Gardner returned for his second home run of the season, a three-run shot to lift New York 5-0 over Baltimore:

Measured at 411 feet in the right field bullpen, the left fielder’s blast marked the seventh home run hit by a Yankee this series. According to the club’s PR department, it’s also the first multi-home run game Gardner has recorded since September 2015. The Yankees currently lead the Orioles 7-0 through four innings.