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Ramirez rakes after false report of suspension

Slugger meets with Francona, Antonetti before homering vs. White Sox
MLB.com

CLEVELAND -- When reporters entered the Indians' clubhouse on Tuesday night, Jose Ramirez was already standing in front of his locker just inside the main entrance. The energetic third baseman began jokingly pointing to each media member in turn, sending a question their way before the postgame interview began.

"Are you ready?" Ramirez asked. "Are you ready? Are you ready?"

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CLEVELAND -- When reporters entered the Indians' clubhouse on Tuesday night, Jose Ramirez was already standing in front of his locker just inside the main entrance. The energetic third baseman began jokingly pointing to each media member in turn, sending a question their way before the postgame interview began.

"Are you ready?" Ramirez asked. "Are you ready? Are you ready?"

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This was not a player who seemed troubled by the unsubstantiated rumors that swirled earlier in the afternoon. Ramirez certainly looked unbothered during the Indians' 7-3 victory over the White Sox, in which he launched his 16th home run of the year. Ramirez noted that the blast was a goal of his before the game, when a false report from an outlet in the Dominican Republic claimed he was nearing a suspension for using a substance banned by Major League Baseball.

Video: CWS@CLE: Ramirez belts a solo homer, his 16th of 2018

Ramirez said that the blog post in question -- sent to him Tuesday morning -- made him laugh, but the All-Star third baseman still met with manager Terry Francona and Chris Antonetti, the team's president of baseball operations, before the game against the White Sox. Ramirez made it clear that the rumors were not true and Major League Baseball indicated the same to the Indians.

"We talked to Jose," Antonetti said. "He said, 'I have no idea what they're talking about. I've worked really hard to try and become the player that I am, and there's nothing to it.' We believed Jose when he told us that. And it was helpful to get the additional confirmation from Major League Baseball."

Francona called the report false in his pregame meeting with reporters on Tuesday and Antonetti stopped by the press box to hold court with media to express the same. Antonetti confirmed with MLB that no suspension was looming for Ramirez, who is in the midst of another stellar campaign for the American League Central-leading Indians.

Video: CWS@CLE: Francona discusses Ramirez's PED rumors

"I can share there is nothing to those rumors," Antonetti said. "And, in fact, we have confirmed with Major League Baseball that that's the case. It's an unsubstantiated report with no truth to it."

Ramirez said he mainly felt bad for fans who might not look at him the same now.

"I really am not worried about it that much," Ramirez said via a translator. "I should say that I feel bad that it came out, but I'm really not worried about it. I do feel bad for any fan that maybe got a wrong impression of me, but that's bad information. I've never used anything like that. So at the end of the day, I feel fine and relaxed about myself and I'm just going to keep doing my thing and keep focusing on baseball and keep going forward."

Ramirez was so relaxed that the team's PR staff had trouble locating him after the report began gaining steam publicly prior to Tuesday's game. It turned out that the third baseman was on the massage table, getting ready for the game rather than worrying about the swelling situation.

Video: CWS@CLE: Ramirez plates Brantley on a double to left

"I really wasn't expecting this kind of reaction," Ramirez said, "just because it wasn't anything official and it wasn't anything that MLB had put out or anything. It was just a random person down there who had posted something, so I really wasn't expecting this kind of reaction."

According to Francona, MLB informs teams before handing down suspensions, and MLB had not reached out to anyone with the Indians.

"He got a big kick out of it," Francona said of Ramirez's reaction to the report. "It's a shame we have to address this. There's really no more to address."

Francona said he sympathized with Ramirez, but despite the report, the third baseman took the ordeal in stride.

Tweet from @MrLapara: FAKE NEWS

Ramirez took to Twitter (@MrLapara) shortly after the report surfaced, claiming that any rumor tying him to performance-enhancing drugs is "FAKE NEWS."

Ramirez, 25, placed third in balloting for last year's AL Most Valuable Player Award, hitting .318/.374/.583 with 29 home runs, 56 doubles, 83 RBIs and 17 stolen bases. Ramirez is off to a strong start this season, in which he has turned in a .296/.389/.616 slash line and currently ranks third in MLB with 3.7 WAR (per Fangraphs). Against the White Sox, Ramirez notched an RBI doouble in the first and belted the homer in the fifth.

"My focus in the game today was to hit a home run," Ramirez said. "Thank God, it happened that way."

Ramirez indicated that he and his agent will discuss if they will look further into the source of the report, but ultimately, the third baseman just wanted to move on.

"To be honest with you, yeah, my first reaction was to laugh a little bit," Ramirez said. "The way I took it, when things are going well for you in baseball, there's always going to be random things that pop up or people trying to find something that will bring attention to you. So, yeah, my first reaction was to laugh a little bit. I just let it go."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook. Casey Harrison is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Casey Harrison is a reporter for MLB.com.

Cleveland Indians, Jose Ramirez