Manny apologizes to Dodgers owner

LOS ANGELES -- Manny Ramirez apologized to Dodgers owner Frank McCourt during a meeting to discuss his 50-game suspension for using a banned drug.

Next, the slugger might face his teammates in the next few days.

McCourt said Ramirez called him and the two met Saturday, two days after the 12-time All-Star began serving a penalty imposed by Major League Baseball.

"I wanted to meet him face to face," McCourt said. "He started off the meeting by apologizing and acknowledging the disappointment that he's created -- not only for me but for others.

"He's in the process right now of doing what anybody else would do if they made a mistake, in terms of making amends here and communicating with the people he knows he has to communicate with and then going about repairing his relationships. And of course, his is magnified many times because he's a public figure and a very popular one."

McCourt also said he thinks Ramirez should speak to his teammates about the suspension.

"If Manny takes the steps that I'm hopeful he will, I think this will be something that won't damage this franchise at all," McCourt said. "We all make mistakes, and it's how we deal with those mistakes that really differentiates one from the other. And if Manny does with others what he did with me yesterday, I think we'll be on the road to full recovery."

Ramirez has also spoken with manager Joe Torre and general manager Ned Colletti by phone. But the outfielder was absent from Dodger Stadium again Sunday as his teammates wrapped up an 11-game homestand against San Francisco.

"He's still beat up by this thing," Torre said. "Again, it's not that he feels it's unfair, but he's embarrassed and he still has to clear his head before he basically feels good enough to come out. Hopefully it's in the near future, but we didn't nail him down for a [specific] day."

Before Sunday's game, Colletti confirmed a report in the Los Angeles Times that he and McCourt had spoken to Ramirez, whose bat practically carried the Dodgers into last year's playoffs and helped the club get off to a 21-8 start before the suspension.

"All I can tell you is that we had two separate conversations. I had one with Manny, and Frank had one with Manny," Colletti told The Associated Press. "I'd say my conversation was a positive one. And from what Frank has relayed to me, I would say the same. That's all I'm going to say about the conversations."

When asked if Ramirez's voice revealed emotion, Colletti said: "Absolutely."

The Times reported on its Web site Sunday, citing unidentified sources, that McCourt was furious with Ramirez and was demanding that the star slugger speak to his teammates about the failed drug test that led to his suspension.

The newspaper said the meeting might happen sometime after the Dodgers begin a six-game road trip this week.

Colletti declined to say when -- or if -- Ramirez would show up in the clubhouse to address the issue. But Colletti acknowledged that the dreadlocked outfielder's separation from the ballclub remains a sensitive issue.

"Yeah," he said. "Why wouldn't it be? I really don't want to get into it."

The Dodgers play in Philadelphia on Tuesday night, beginning a three-game series against the team that beat them in the NLCS. From there, it's on to Florida for a three-game set with the Marlins. Ramirez lives in Pembroke Pines, Fla., but Torre wouldn't say where the 2004 World Series MVP is at the moment.

"That's a personal thing, where he is. But he's still here," Torre said.

Ramirez re-signed with the Dodgers in the offseason for a $45 million, two-year contract. He was suspended Thursday for violating baseball's drug policy.

Ramirez said he did not take steroids and was given medication by a doctor that contained a banned substance. A person familiar with the details of the suspension said Ramirez used the female fertility drug hCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the banned substance wasn't announced.

HCG is popular among steroid users because it can mitigate the side effects of ending a cycle of the drugs.

"It's really up to him how he conducts himself before I can answer how it affects the organization," McCourt said. "That being said, the Dodgers are much bigger than Manny Ramirez or any player. The Dodgers are much bigger than anybody -- including me. Including owners. This is a civic asset, and it's really owned by the fans. And life will go on."