Big news: Major League Baseball just announced that Manny Ramirez has retired. Major League Baseball said that his retirement came after he was told of “an issue” with the drug treatment and prevention program. The statement:
“Major League Baseball recently notified Manny Ramirez of an issue under Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Rather than continue with the process under the Program, Ramirez has informed MLB that he is retiring as an active player. If Ramirez seeks reinstatement in the future, the process under the Drug Program will be completed. MLB will not have any further comment on this matter.”
Since the report of his retirement came out it has been confirmed by multiple sources that Ramirez failed a drug test during spring training. Thus his retirement preempts a mandatory 100-game suspension.
Manny was 1 for 17 for the Rays this year. This was preceded by competing talk over the winter in which most people doubted Ramirez’s motivation in light of his meager contract while some — this writer included — thought that he felt he had something to prove to himself or baseball. The drug situation obviously impacts this in a completely different way.
I’m assuming we’ll get an official statement from Ramirez or his agent soon. We’ll update as we learn more.
Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.
The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.
The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.
In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.