Ortiz and Ramirez Said to Be on 2003 Doping List (via NYTimes)

Should be interesting to watch this play out.

Can’t say I’m surprised: in this day in age, can you be?

The Red Sox have finally been touched directly by the present-day steroids scandal. (Sorry, Paxton Crawford: you weren’t significant enough to cause a stir.)

Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz are reportedly one of the 103-4 names on the seized government list that documents who tested positive for steroids in 2003. That list was responsible for kicking off mandatory steroids testing in 2004.

Manny Ramirez is no stranger to the steroids saga, having been suspended for 50 games earlier this year. He alluded to testing positive in 2003 during a press conference about this suspension, saying that “I’ve taken and passed about 15 drug tests over the past five seasons.”

You’ll notice that five seasons ago was 2004, not 2003.

As for David Ortiz, he has mentioned in the past that when he was young, he used to take protein shakes in the Dominican Republic and never quite knew what was in them, so it was possible he would test positive.

Was Ortiz setting this story up for the future leak? Is it legitimate or is he just trying to cover himself? The latter is what cynical people would say.

But what if true? What if those protein shakes really are the reason why he tested positive?

It doesn’t excuse his inability to check what he was digesting in his body, but do we really put him on the same pedestal as Barry Bonds? Or does he belong on the same pedestal as Andy Pettitte?

How about 2004 and on? If Ortiz did indeed test positive in 2003, he spent that whole season establishing himself as a valued member of the Red Sox, then tested clean from then on. Is that a byproduct of not ingesting those protein shakes once he found out he had tested positive?

Or is he just a hypocrite?

In my experiences watching baseball, Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez were of shady character enough that it was easy enough to see and believe they had taken steroids illegally and knowingly.

I don’t have that sense about Ortiz. It’s possible he’s crafted an outstanding, fake public image and he’s not the person we all thought he was, but I’m not cynical enough for that.

I think right now, David Ortiz deserves my not rushing to judgment. Not based on all these home runs he’s hit for the Sox, but for what he says and what he stands for.

Ortiz’s career track — ineffective and hurt — seems like a recipe for steroid use, and it probably was.

But I have a hard time believing that Ortiz should be cast in the same pool as Bonds.