Joe Maddon Counted on Manny Ramirez, Was ‘Shocked’ by Slugger’s Departure

Joe Maddon Counted on Manny Ramirez, Was 'Shocked' by Slugger's Departure A day after Manny Ramirez abruptly retired, he called Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon to address the matter. There was no apology, but an expression of disappointment on the part of Ramirez.

That disappointment was felt team-wide.

"Organizationally it's not that good," Maddon said of the loss of Ramirez. "We depended on him to be the number four hitter behind [Evan Longoria]. We are making adjustments now."

Maddon said he was "totally shocked" when he learned of the retirement, pointing to a very solid working relationship with Ramirez this spring and a sense that the slugger was going to be one of the backbones of the operation this year.

"I felt let down because we were counting on him," Maddon said. "I really felt good about him, I sincerely did. I thought he was moving well, I thought he was happy … I was looking forward to working with him."

All Maddon got from Ramirez was 17 at-bats, one hit and one RBI. Oh, and being forced to make a massive lineup shuffle on the fly. Ramirez's departure, coupled with Longoria going on the disabled list, left a massive void in the Tampa Bay lineup that has not come close to being filled. The Rays have produced 11 runs in their eight losses (against just one win), and enter a three-game series in Fenway Park on Monday with a .163 team average.

Johnny Damon, a longtime teammate of Ramirez's in Boston and a fellow offseason signing, is hitting just .125. Still, he has assumed a leadership role on a team that has been rocked by the Ramirez exit.

Damon called the retirement a "sad" circumstance, not only for what it does to Ramirez's legacy, but also for what it's done to the team.

"We definitely counted on him," Damon said.

Against Daisuke Matsuzaka in the series opener Monday night, Maddon is using Matt Joyce (.130, 0 home runs, 0 RBIs) in the three-hole and Dan Johnson, who is batting .088, as the cleanup hitter. Without Longoria and Ramirez, it's a daily exercise for Maddon to find the best one through nine he can. So far, it's been an exercise in futility.

"It's been really frustrating because we are better than that," Maddon added. "However, we are missing our three and four hitters, and guys are being pressed into service in spots in the batting order they weren't expecting to, so that does cause a little bit of chaos.

"I have full faith that we are going to climb right back into this thing. It's not going to be easy."

It never is when you lose your cleanup hitter to retirement a week into the season, but such is the awkward, and disappointing, fate of the Tampa Bay Rays and Manny Ramirez.

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