- Enrique Rojas, ESPNdeportes
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MIAMI -- Manny Ramirez acknowledged that he has made many mistakes in his life and he seeks a new chance to show that he has changed.
In an exclusive interview with ESPN Deportes, Ramirez said it was a mistake to have used banned performance-enhancing substances and to retire without providing any explanation to fans last April, and he declared that he is in the best physical shape of the last three years.
"Every day that goes by I regret the decisions I made by following bad advice," Ramirez said on Sunday in Miami. "We are human, we make mistakes, we are not perfect. Everybody deserves a chance to show he has changed," he added.
Ramirez, a lifetime .312 hitter with 555 homers and 1,831 RBIs over 19 seasons with Cleveland, Boston, Los Angeles, the Chicago White Sox and Tampa Bay, was reinstated by Major League Baseball from the voluntary retirement list to the free agent list on Saturday. The Dominican player opted for retirement instead of serving a second suspension totaling 100 games for violating baseball's drug policy last April, while he was under contract with the Tampa Bay Rays.
"I was badly advised, I took a decision I should not have taken. I should have said something to my fans," he said about his quiet and abrupt retirement seven months ago. "I was surrounded by many people who gave me bad advice. I made an emotional decision, but I have regretted that decision since the day I made it," he added without identifying the alleged guilty parties.
Under an agreement with Major League Baseball, Ramirez must serve a 50-game ban instead of the 100 games as stipulated for repeat offenders. The suspension will begin the moment that Ramirez signs with any team.
The 12-time All Star and member of the Boston Red Sox's 2004 and 2007 World Series Championship teams has been contacting teams personally to determine if there is any interest in his services.
"If a scout comes by and sees me, sees the shape that I'm in, I can get a big league contract, but the doors are open," he said regarding the possibility of finding himself forced to accept a minor league deal with no guarantees.
"It took me three years to reach ideal conditioning again. In 2009 due to the suspension, in Chicago, in Tampa, my mechanics were off. Physically I was doing well, but not mentally. Baseball is a mental game. You can have a car with 1,000 horsepower, but if you don't have someone who can drive it, forget it," the 39-year-old veteran said. "I am awaiting an opportunity," he noted.
When the reporter asked Ramirez if he'd be willing to play in Japan or any other place outside the United States, he said: "We are the working class and wherever there is work, you must go work." MLB's reinstatement also opens the door for Ramirez to play in the Dominican League.
Ramirez expressed support for Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun and warned that it is important to listen to what he has to say before voicing any opinions. Braun, this past season's NL MVP, tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug and faces a 50-game suspension if the initial finding is upheld, ESPN reported on Saturday.
"Ryan is a tremendous ball player ... the information out there is pure speculation. He must be allowed to speak in order to know what is happening," said Ramirez, who was suspended twice for violating Major League Baseball's drug policy.
"None of those substances will make you a better baseball player. There are rules in the big leagues and we must respect them," commented Ramirez, who began his career with the Cleveland Indians in 1993.
In October, Ramirez announced that he would play once again for the Aguilas Cibaeñas in the Dominican winter league for the first time since the 1993-94 season, but he was informed by the commissioner's office that he was on a list of ineligible players because of his unresolved matters in Major League Baseball. The player then decided to request reinstatement to baseball.
"I made a mistake and the commissioner's decision must be respected. I would like to play for Aguilas, dedicate a year to my country so that fans may see me play," he said.
Off the field, Ramirez faces a legal case in the state of Florida, where he has been accused of domestic violence after an argument with his wife, Juliana. Ramirez told investigators that he never hit his wife but that he did grab her by the shoulders and shake her, which caused her to hit herself against the headboard of the bed. The couple has since reconciled.
"I adore my wife, who has been with me through all the ups and downs. She has always supported me and she tells me I can do anything. Ever since I was in Boston, she would give me a push and tell me, 'One doesn't know what one has until one loses it,' " Ramirez said.
"I love you guys a lot. Manny coming soon," he told his fans by speaking to the cameras while concluding the interview with ESPN Deportes.
Enrique Rojas is a reporter and columnist for ESPNdeportes.com and ESPN.com.
Manny Ramirez acknowledged that he has made many mistakes in his life and he seeks a new chance to show that he has changed