May 15, 2009

Manny Ramirez apologized to his Los Angeles Dodgers teammates on Friday after being suspended for 50 games for using a banned drug.

After the meeting, which took place in the Dodgers' team hotel in the Miami area, Ramirez shook hands with and hugged everyone. A source described Ramirez as "uncomfortable" speaking in front of the group. The Dodgers open a weekend series against the Marlins in Miami on Friday night.

Ramirez had already spoken with team owner Frank McCourt and general manager Ned Colletti last weekend. McCourt demanded that Ramirez apologize to his teammates, although Dodgers manager Joe Torre had said at first that he didn't think addressing the team was necessary.

"I don't think anyone was really looking for an apology," Dodgers third baseman Casey Blake said. "It was something he wanted to do and I think it was heartfelt."

Ramirez lives near the Marlins' stadium but was not expected at the ballpark this weekend. He will begin working out with the Dodgers once they return to Los Angeles on Monday for a six-game homestand against the Mets and Angels. Although he cannot play until his 50-game ban ends on July 3, Ramirez can work out as long as he is out of uniform and off the field when the gates open up, which is several hours before the first pitch.

"He knows he made a mistake. I forgive him," Blake said. "It's his business."

On May 7 Major League Baseball announced that Ramirez had violated the testing policy and would be suspended for 50 games. The banned substance turned out to be the female fertility drug HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin). HCG is popular among steroid users because it can mitigate the side effects of ending a cycle of the drugs. Ramirez issued a statement claiming that it was a medication prescribed to him by a doctor, but accepted the mandatory 50-game ban for those who fail a drug test for the first time.

At the time of his suspension, Ramirez was batting .348 with six home runs and 20 RBIs and had led the Dodgers to the best record in baseball.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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