After failing a second drug test, Rays designated hitter Manny Ramirez has decided to retire rather than appeal or face a 100-game suspension as a repeat offender.
Ramirez would have been the first player suspended 100 games.
Instead of notifying the Rays directly, Ramirez, who wasn't with the team today, notified the league, who issued the following statement (via MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez):
"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."
To take the roster spot vacated by Ramirez, the Rays have called up first baseman Casey Kotchman.
On the season, Ramirez was off to a rough start (like most of the Rays, who scored a league-worse eight runs in their first six games): one hit in 17 at-bats.
But as ESPN's Stats & Info blog points out via Twitter, Ramirez is one of only five players in Major League history to have hit .300-plus and 550-plus home runs for his career. The other four are Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Alex Rodriguez.
Is Manny a Hall of Famer? Let the debate start now ...