David Ortiz feels bad for Manny Ramirez

BOSTON -- When the news of Manny Ramirez's recent arrest reached the Boston Red Sox clubhouse, his former teammate -- and once close friend -- David Ortiz was shocked and disappointed.

The two haven't talked since the Tampa Bay Rays and Red Sox played a Grapefruit League game during spring training at Fort Myers, Fla., and Ortiz said he can't imagine what Ramirez's life has been like without baseball.

"To be honest with you, I've talked to some guys and when it comes down to retirement, even when they get prepared to do it, once they do it they're not ready for it," Ortiz said Friday. "And in Manny's situation he retired from the game when nobody expected it, so I think it has to be a little hard for him just chilling and not playing the game that he loved.

"I mean, I'm not using that as an excuse for him to do what he did because you can never go that far. I've only heard comments about what happened and I don't really know, nobody really knows what happened behind closed doors at his house. But everybody knows you cannot go that far and let that happen. Everybody knows how we, as humans, look at that."

Ramirez, the 2004 World Series MVP for the Red Sox and once seemingly certain Hall of Famer, was arrested Monday and faces criminal charges for misdemeanor domestic battery after allegedly slapping his wife, Juliana, at the couple's home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Ramirez's latest setback follows his April decision to retire from the game rather than serve a 100-game suspension for a second violation of Major League Baseball's drug policy. Otherwise, it's quite possible he would be in a Rays uniform and in the midst of a pennant race against his former club this weekend at Fenway Park.

Ramirez's career was never the same after the Red Sox traded him to the Los Angeles Dodgers in July 2008. He helped the Dodgers reach the postseason that year and quickly endeared himself to Dodgers fans, but the following May he was suspended for 50 games after testing positive for banned substances.

The Chicago White Sox claimed him off waivers in August 2010, and he signed with the Rays as a free agent last January. He played only five games for the Rays before he voluntarily retired on April 8.

Ortiz believes if Ramirez was playing baseball, things could be different.

"When it comes down to the game, I can't imagine how he feels about not playing," Ortiz said. "He knows it's all his fault. He can't blame nobody but himself, so it might get even worse. When you can blame it on somebody else you at least have an argument but when you know it's all your fault it's got to be even harder."

Before his first drug suspension, Ramirez was often considered the greatest right-handed hitter of his generation and a clear-cut choice for enshrinement in Cooperstown. He was a 12-time All-Star, a two-time World Series champion.

But he's viewed differently now.

"It has to be [difficult]," Ortiz said. "The last time we talked was when we played each other in spring training. Manny's a hard guy to reach. I think it'll be easy for me to get in touch with Obama than it would be to get in touch with Manny. I would like to at some point and see how he's doing."

Ortiz is disappointed in Ramirez's alleged actions. He also hopes Ramirez is able to turn his life around.

At the time of his court hearing, Ramirez was ordered by a judge to have no direct contact with his wife.

"They are a beautiful couple and they have great kids and a beautiful family, so hopefully they figure things out and he realizes that what he did was wrong," Ortiz said. "He needs to regroup with his family and have a good life.

"He had a wonderful career, and it didn't end the way he wanted it to, but he still had a great career. You marry your wife one day because you think that's the right person to be right next to. Now that you need her the most, you don't want to be going through things like that. It's easier said than done, but Manny's a good dude. He's not a bad person. I hope everything works out for him and his family."

Joe McDonald covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.