Manny Ramirez reacts after striking out in the fourth inning against the… (Mike Carlson / Associated…)
Being busted once was bad enough. But twice?
Testing positive for a banned substance under major league baseball's drug policy, one-time Dodgers darling Manny Ramirez retired Friday rather than face the prospect of a 100-game suspension.
Ramirez, who was batting .059 for the Tampa Bay Rays, served a 50-game suspension as a member of the Dodgers in 2009 for a similar violation.
Ramirez's latest Manny-Being-Manny episode had some in baseball scratching their heads.
"I used to defend him," Angels outfielder Torii Hunter said. "I can't defend him anymore. Boy, I don't know what to say. I love all my players, but how can you defend that? It's embarrassing for him. It's a shame. For all the things he's done in the game, to end it like this? It's kind of crazy. Three years ago, he was a lock for the Hall of Fame. Now? I don't know ... I'm not the judge ... maybe someone will forgive him."
Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said he was surprised that Ramirez would put himself to be caught a second time.
"I can't speak for him or what he was thinking, but I'm a little baffled that he would continue on," Mattingly said.
A 12-time All-Star and one-time batting champion, Ramirez batted .312 over his 19-year career. He hit more home runs (555) and drove in more runs (1,831) than Mickey Mantle. He won two World Series championships with the Boston Red Sox.
Mattingly said the latest revelations made him question the validity of Ramirez's accomplishments.
"It's hard when you don't know how much of it went on," Mattingly said. "You have no idea of how long it went on, how much of it went on, how much it changed it. It puts that doubt in your mind of what was through hard work and what came through not totally his abilities."
Mattingly was the Dodgers' hitting coach in 2008, when Ramirez was acquired from the Red Sox in a midseason trade. Ramirez electrified Dodger Stadium like no position player before him, batting .396 in 53 games and leading the previously lifeless Dodgers to the National League Championship Series.
Ramirez turned a two-month tear in 2008 into a two-year, $45-million contract with the Dodgers.
He was suspended for 50 games in May of the following year for violating baseball's drug policy and returned a far lesser player. His tenure with the Dodgers ended in August, when he was claimed off waivers by the Chicago White Sox.
Two months later, the New York Times later reported that Ramirez had tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in baseball's anonymous survey tests of 2003.
As was the case in 2009, Ramirez tested positive for a banned substance during spring training this year, according to baseball sources with knowledge of the situation. Because he was a repeat offender, Ramirez faced a 100-game suspension. Instead of appealing the test results or serving the punishment, Ramirez opted for retirement.
"I'm at peace," Ramirez told ESPNDeportes.com by phone from his home in Miami. "God knows what's best."
Ramirez said he would travel to Spain with his father.
The Rays were caught off guard.
"We are obviously surprised and disappointed by this news," the team said in a statement.