Francona still mum on Manny

April, 9, 2011
BOSTON -- Red Sox manager Terry Francona was asked after his club’s 9-6 victory over the New York Yankees on Friday at Fenway Park for his thoughts about Manny Ramirez’s decision to retire, after Ramirez reportedly violated Major League Baseball’s drug policy for a second time.

Francona, who managed Ramirez from 2004 until the slugger was traded in 2008, decided to withhold judgment because he did not know the details of the situation.

When asked about it Saturday, Francona said he thought about it Friday night and decided not to comment.

“He’s not our player and I don’t know anything about it," he said. "I saw a blurb. I guess I really don’t have a comment.”

He was then asked whether he thinks baseball will ever be able to escape the issue of performance-enhancing drugs and make it a thing of the past.

“I think it’s almost unfair to hold baseball to that," he said. "You think life is ever going to get away from that? Like you, football, people on the street? Probably not,” Francona said. “It’s probably something that’s a little larger than baseball.”

The landscape, testing, rules and discipline have improved over the years, he acknowledged.

“Way better,” he said. “When things sort of looked like they were getting out of hand, in the middle '90s, I was [managing] in the minor leagues, so I’m a little bit ignorant on that, which shouldn’t be an excuse. But I think the general public would be somewhat shocked -- in a good way -- how hard these guys work. I do get to see that. The younger players coming up, the testing is pretty stringent and I think that’s good.”

Ramirez is considered by many to be the greatest right-handed hitter of his generation, and almost immediately the debate has intensified on whether he -- and other players like him -- should still be elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

“I don’t know. I’d hate to give an opinion unless you have an answer, and I don’t think there is an answer,” Francona said. “Our game is being penalized for, maybe, I don’t know if 'putting our heads in the sand' is the right term. It’s never going to be fair for everybody. We’re paying the price for what happened -- in general. That’s a shame.”

Red Sox reliever Bobby Jenks, who played with Ramirez in Chicago last season, has his take on players who are known or suspected PED users and their place in Cooperstown.

“I’ve thought about this and I’ve gone back and forth with different people, whether players should be in, or shouldn’t be,” Jenks said. “I think when it comes down to that, they shouldn’t be able to be voted in, because I don’t think any writer will. It should come down to the former players, the Hall of Fame ballot, the Veterans’ Committee and let them decide. If [Manny] gets in, he gets in that way.”

Joe McDonald

ESPN Staff Writer



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