LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers reported today that suspended slugger Manny Ramirez, who is currently serving a 50-game suspension imposed by the league after testing positive for a banned substance is, according to Dodgers' head team physician Dr. Neal El Attrache, "pregnant with octuplets, and will likely miss the rest of the season as he prepares for the multiple birth."
Ramirez's positive test was for human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG), a drug used mainly for female fertility treatments, according to a report given to Major League Baseball by the World Anti-Doping Agency in Montreal.
Reactions to this new announcement has been quite varied.
"This is just Manny having mini-Mannies," said Dodgers' General Manager Ned Louis Colletti, Jr.
"Ramirez's work ethic has been tremendous, and I am confident that he can handle the challenge of motherhood, I even think it may help Manny that he is as flaky as Manny," said Scott Boras Ramirez's agent.
Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, who had a notable period of silence following the announcement of Ramirez's suspension, was quick to come to his side following the news of the pregnancy. "The Dodgers are many things, a business, an organization, a team, but first and foremost we are family. We wanted Manny to know that we support his decision to start a family -- with us. We'll be there for him and his little ones in whatever way we can.," said McCourt.
According to Dr. El Attrache, "Starting at about five months, which only about a month and a half from now, Mr. Ramirez will need to avoid heavy lifting -- or any other exercise which might strain the abdominal muscles -- and stay off his feet. During the last couple of months, he will need constant bed rest."
The hCG suspension, which will keep Ramirez out of action until at least July 3, is without pay and will cost him about $7.7 million of this year's $25 million salary.
Ramirez' two-year, $45 million contract allows him to opt out after this season, which he may, insiders say, to devote time to his burgeoning brood.
Following the press conference announcing the pregnancy, even with no Manny Ramirez in the Dodgers' clubhouse, there was still music in the clubhouse - "Play That Funky Music" - and there was a lightness of being that arrived with Ramirez's signing last August, but one could feel the uneasiness that lingers as Manny enters this new phase in his life.