Manny apologizes to Dodgers owner
McCourt says meeting with teammates important
LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers owner Frank McCourt told reporters Sunday that he met with Manny Ramirez in person in the days after his suspension and that Ramirez apologized for his 50-game suspension for the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
McCourt said the meeting with Ramirez was just the first of many steps Ramirez has to take in order to regain the trust of the Dodgers organization and its fans.
"I felt strongly that I need to hear from him and I was pleased when [I] did," McCourt said. "I felt strongly he needed to meet with [general manager] Ned [Colletti] and he did. I feel very strongly that he needs to talk to his teammates in person and I feel strongly he has to speak to the fans and to the community."
Ramirez still hasn't talked to his teammates in person yet but could meet with Dodgers players on their upcoming road trip as they play a three-game series in Miami next week, which is near Ramirez's home in Pembroke Pines, Fla.
McCourt said it's up to Ramirez what he wants to say to his teammates, but it's a necessary part of the process.
"I think he'll decide what the right words are, but there's no question that when you let somebody down, there's some sort of apology," McCourt said. "But I can't speak for him. He needs to speak for himself and he knows that."
Dodgers manager Joe Torre also spoke with Ramirez by phone, and the two talked about Ramirez meeting with his teammates.
"He's still beat up by this thing," Torre said Sunday. "Again, it's not that he feels it's unfair, but he's embarrassed and he still has to clear his head before he basically feels good enough to come out. Hopefully it's in the near future, but we didn't nail him down for a [specific] day."
McCourt wouldn't specify when his meeting with Ramirez took place but said it occurred after Ramirez called him by phone, with the two deciding to meet in person.
"I felt it was important for the conversation to be eyeball-to-eyeball instead of on the phone," McCourt said. "I found him to be very sorrowful and apologetic. He's very sorry and knows he let down me, the entire front office, Joe, his teammates and all his fans. So he's hurt but he also knows he brought the hurt on himself."
McCourt also said that he has no intentions of trying to void Ramirez's contract and if Ramirez takes the necessary steps it won't hurt the organization even though Ramirez had become one of its most popular faces.
"I think if Manny takes the steps that I'm hopeful that he will, I think this will be something that won't damage the franchise at all," McCourt said. "He needs to take responsibly publicly, speaking directly about this and being truly remorseful. If he does that, I think we've handled something very well. So it's really up to him."
McCourt said that he found out about Ramirez's suspension after the Dodgers' game Wednesday when he received a phone call from Major League Baseball. He said he "was very disappointed" and "a little angry" at first but that "today is better than yesterday and I'm sure tomorrow will be better than today."
McCourt also said he doesn't know the specifics of what Ramirez was taking to trigger the test and that he doesn't need to know as long as Ramirez is truly sorry about what happened.
Ramirez was reportedly taking human chorionic gonadotropin, a female fertility drug, but McCourt wouldn't comment on the drug and its uses.
"I'm not a doctor," McCourt said. "What I know is the test results and that's all I know. There have been many tests and I know he passed them and failed one. And one is enough."
McCourt expressed faith that Major League Baseball is taking the right steps to rid the sport of the use of performance-enhancing drugs. But he also wouldn't talk about the specifics of when a player is tested, such as during the offseason, because he's "not an expert."
"I think we've all agreed that this is most stringent testing policy in all of sports and there are significant penalties with a positive test and this is just an example of that," McCourt said. "A 50-game suspension without pay is a steep price to pay."
Finally, McCourt said he expects his team, which currently has the best record in baseball, to continue its winning ways without Ramirez.
"The Dodgers are much bigger than Manny Ramirez or any player," McCourt said. "We have a bunch of guys out there playing hard without Manny and I'm very confident that they'll keep playing hard and winning baseball games."
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.