Canseco hints that Manny is on the juice

Jose Canseco recently touched on the topic of steroids in baseball to an audience at Bovard Auditorium on the campus of USC and hinted that Dodgers’ outfielder Manny Ramirez could be/could have been on the juice.

Jose CansecoWhat about Manny Ramirez? someone asks.

He says this, despite the fact that A-Rod isn’t being treated as toxic, nor are other players who were caught up in the steroid scandal but publicly apologized, including Miguel Tejada, starting shortstop for the Houston Astros, and Andy Pettitte, a starting pitcher with the New York Yankees.

Why didn’t Ramirez get a long-term deal? Canseco asks. Why were owners gun-shy about signing arguably the game’s best hitter?

Never mind that Ramirez was asking for a mega-deal at age 36. Or that he was negotiating in a sickly economy, while weighed down by the heavy baggage of a surly reputation. Canseco will have none of it. To Canseco, the drawn-out negotiation, the lack of a long-term deal, the lack of interest all raise red flags, and so he tells the Bovard crowd that Ramirez’s “name is most likely, 90%,” on the list.

Canseco admits later that he has no way of knowing. But it makes sense to him, so he threw it out there — kaboom! — swinging for the fences, still.

Late Saturday, I tracked down Ramirez to tell him what Canseco had said. The immediate response is pure Ramirez: He laughs. Sitting at his locker, he says, “I got no comment, nothing to say about that. What can I say? I don’t even know the guy.”

Canseco is a nut, but as it turns out he’s been right about a lot of the players he has called out for taking roids. But that doesn’t mean Ramirez has ever been on the juice and I don’t know if you can point to his contract troubles this past offseason as an indication that he was taking performance-enhancers. I think teams were more leery of Man-Ram’s age, eroding defensive skills and the possibility of him flat out quitting on the Red Sox last year.

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