SAN DIEGO -- When he signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers a few weeks into spring training, his first words were, "I'm baaaack."
At 3 p.m. PDT Friday, Manny Ramirez walked into a news conference here and announced, "Showtime!"
Freed to enter a major-league ballpark following his 50-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs, Ramirez, penciled in to bat third for tonight's game against the Padres, apologized to fans and teammates for "not being there."
But it clearly is an uncomfortable Ramirez who is back, and it's clear that he's not providing any details on anything related to steroids.
"I'm not talking about my criminal record," he joked at one point during the 12-minute news conference.
Asked right out of the gate when he started using steroids and what his regimen was, Ramirez deflected the question.
"First I want to say God is good and good is God," Ramirez replied, with agent Scott Boras sitting to his right. "I'm happy to be here. I missed the game. I'm happy to play."
Asked what he would say to the fans, he was vague.
"I want to say I'm sorry to the fans and to my teammates," Ramirez said. "They are always there for me. I'd like to thank (Dodgers owner) Frank McCourt for his support."
He said the general reaction to him has "been great everywhere I go. People are there for me. They gave me support. It hasn't been that bad."
Asked what he was sorry for, Ramirez demurred.
"I'm not getting into that," he said. "If you want to talk about the game. ... Not being there for (teammates). Not being able to play the game. I'm a huge part of the Dodgers. ... When I say I'm sorry, I'm sorry."
Asked specifically whether he was sorry for taking steroids, Ramirez said: "I already answered that question, sir."
Manager Joe Torre has Ramirez batting third and Andre Ethier fourth tonight.
Perhaps part of Ramirez's apology should be directly to Ethier.
"I think his batting average suffered because of (Manny's) absence," said Torre, who also attended Ramirez's "news" conference. "I think he put a lot of pressure on himself."
Ramirez made it clear he is happy to be back.
Did he learn anything? Sure, he said.
"What I learned is if you do the right thing, you never have to look back," he said. "That's what I learned."