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Word of Manny's ban reaches Tribe

Word of Manny's ban reaches Tribe

BOSTON -- Manny Ramirez established himself as one of the game's most dominating hitters in eight seasons with the Indians. After being selected with the 13th overall pick in the 1991 First-Year Player Draft and making his big league debut in '93, he hit .313 with 236 home runs, 804 RBIs and a .592 slugging percentage in 967 games with the Tribe.

But Ramirez has been gone from Cleveland for almost nine seasons, and now he's just another player who's been caught violating Major League Baseball's drug policy, punished with a 50-game suspension.

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Manny Ramirez

Very few in the visitors' clubhouse wanted to comment on the subject before Thursday's game against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

"My comment would be I'm concerned about the Cleveland Indians, and that's it," said Indians general manager Mark Shapiro, who is in his 18th season with the Tribe. "Other than that, I have no comment."

Manager Eric Wedge was managing in the Indians' Minor League system when he had Ramirez on a one-game rehab assignment.

"I'm going to stay away from that," Wedge said of the news. "He doesn't have anything to do with us. We don't have anything to do with him. So we'll see where time leads with that one."

Wedge was more concerned about the effect it would have on the game.

"Well, any time something like this happens, it's unfortunate for the game of baseball," he said. "It's tough to comment on before you know all the ins and outs, which we probably never will. But anything that's negative toward the game of baseball, it's unfortunate, because it's a great game.

"I'm just all about what's good for the game of baseball. It's a great game, and you got so many fantastic young people out here doing it the right way. That's what's more important to me than anything."

One of those young people to whom Wedge was referring could be Indians rookie Matt LaPorta, who watched Ramirez while growing up.

"Oh definitely," LaPorta said. "I watched a lot of baseball, lot of hitting on him, obviously, because he's one of the best hitters, if not the best. He's great for this game."

But what of Thursday's news?

"Well, it's one of those things that we don't really know what happened or what's going on," LaPorta said. "I just feel sorry for him. Whatever the situation is, whatever he got tested positive for, I don't know. And so until you have more information, you can't really make an assessment on it."

LaPorta and Ramirez are both clients of agent Scott Boras.

"It doesn't affect me, necessarily," LaPorta said. "Like I said, I feel bad for him and the situation he's in. But, I'm sure he'll come through, and no big deal."

Like Ramirez, Ryan Garko was a high pick of the Indians in the third round out of Stanford in the 2003 Draft. The news, he said, shows that baseball's testing program is working.

"Well, I think we're testing more now than we ever have in the past," Garko said. "I think in this day and age, all the major sports are testing and baseball's really doing a lot more than they used to. So I think it's not good news to hear when someone [gets caught], when it works. But the game has done a good job cleaning itself up."

Pitcher Carl Pavano has faced Ramirez seven times, giving up four hits, including a home run, and four RBIs with two strikeouts.

"I don't have any reaction," Pavano said. "Let Manny take care of that and his people. We don't really know what went on or what happened. So I have no comment on it. It doesn't affect me one bit."

Does it affect the game?

"I don't think so," Pavano said. "This is the first I've heard about it today. So we'll see. In the next couple days, things will become more clear, I'm sure, about what's going on."

Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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