Manny Back with Dodgers

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

SAN DIEGO (AP) - Manny Ramirez returned to the big leagues and apologized to fans and his teammates. He refused to talk about steroids, though.

The slugger's 50-game suspension for violating baseball's drug policy ended Friday and he was set to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers against the San Diego Padres.

"Showtime!" he said as he walked into a news conference about four hours before the first pitch. He wore sunglasses and has his famous dreadlocks back in a ponytail.

"Well, I want to say I'm sorry to the fans, to my teammates that they're always there for me," Ramirez said. "I want to thank Frank McCourt for his support," he added, referring to the Dodgers' owner.

"I'm here. I'm excited. I can't wait to get into the field."

Asked what he was sorry for, he said: "Not being there for them. For not playing the game, because I'm a huge part of the Dodgers and I'm proud to wear that uniform. When I say I'm sorry, I let those fans down, that they go out there to see me."

Ramirez's ban was based on evidence he used human chorionic gonadotropin, a fertility drug that's banned by baseball, a person familiar with the suspension told The Associated Press after the suspension was announced on May 7, speaking on condition of anonymity because those details were not released.

HCG is popular among steroid users because it can mitigate the side effects of ending a cycle of the drugs.

Ramirez refused several times to talk about the reason for his suspension.

"First I want to say that God is good and good is God. I don't want to get into my medical records right now. I'm happy to be here. I missed the game. I'm ready to play. I was practicing in Triple-A and I can't wait to get into the field."

Ramirez seemed relaxed yet said he felt "a lot" of anxiety.

"But I'm pretty sure I can handle it. This is not my first rodeo. So I know I'm going to be fine. I know I can play this game. I'm going to enjoy it the most I can."

He also admitting being embarrassed by the whole episode.

"But we're humans. We learn from our mistake."

He seems to have found a new catch phrase.

"Showtime tonight!" he said as he walked off the dais.

Thousands of blue-clad Dodgers fans were expected to be in the sellout crowd at Petco Park.


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