WASHINGTON — A strained hamstring kept Rays C Wilson Ramos from playing in Tuesday's All-Star Game, but not enjoying the experience of being there.
Ramos, who played seven seasons with the Nationals, seemed to be cheered at every turn. Fans did the sing-song "Wil-son, Wil-son" chant during the red carpet event. They hollered at him when he came out of the dugout before batting practice. And they cheered him loudly during pregame introductions, which he acknowledged by raising his arms in salute to his nickname, The Buffalo.
"I want to enjoy every moment, everything here,'' he said. "A lot of fans have recognized me and that made me feel great.''
Ramos also played a small role in former teammate Bryce Harper's dramatic victory in Monday's home run derby, Harper saying he appreciated Ramos coming over to encourage him during a break in the final round before he rallied to beat Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber. "That was a great moment, a great ovation from the crowd,'' Ramos said.
"Just seeing Wilson, it was really cool,'' Harper said.
Ramos confirmed what has been obvious, that he will be placed on the DL by the Rays, though said he won't know until he gets back to meet with team medical staff how long he will be out.
Manager Kevin Cash said after the Saturday injury Ramos was going to miss some time,'' which based on past issues with other players could mean up to eight weeks, or more. "I'm feeling better now, so that's a good point,'' he said.
The Rays have yet to take any action to replace Ramos, thought it would make sense for them to be looking at least for an experienced option via waivers or a low-cost trade to join Jesus Sucre. If not, they could promote Adam Moore, a journey with 96 games' experience, from Triple A.
Also, the Rays on Wednesday will reinstate LHP Jose Alvarado from the family medical emergency list, as he missed the last five games. They already made room by sending down RHP Andrew Kittredge.
A sense of the contentiousness between the players and owners, and a potential preview of how challenging the next round of labor negotiations in 2021 may be, was on display Tuesday in comments from players union chief Tony Clark and commissioner Rob Manfred about last winter's unprecedented slow free agent market.
They also had differing views of other topics that involve the Rays, such as whether payroll correlates to chances for winning; roster moves tied to manipulating service time; how previously defined roles, such as, say, starting pitchers have changed; and the potential for a universal DH.
"What players saw last off-season was that their free-agency rights are under attack, that's what they've seen,'' Clark said, speaking at the annual All-Star session with the Baseball Writers' Association of America. "To the extent that we have an opportunity to address those, we're very interested in having the opportunity to address those, and if that means in 2021, we'll address them then. If it means there's an opportunity to address the impact of any number of things we're seeing prior to, we'll be interested in having that conversation then. But what we experienced last off-season was a direct attack on free agency, which has been the bedrock of our economic system. And if that's going to be different, than we have some very difficult decisions to make moving forward.''
Alluding to suggestions that some teams were tanking by trading away stars, Clark said "they are very passionate about their respect for the game, they are very committed to competing and playing at the highest level possible from start to finish.'' And, he said, "roster manipulation'' is at or near the top of list of issues.
Manfred strongly refuted that a higher payroll equals more victories, and that the free-agent market played out as it did because teams made smart decisions on signings.
"Direct attack connotes some sort of purposeful behavior,'' he said, speaking later to the BBWAA group. "The only purposeful behavior that took place in the free-agent market last year is that our clubs carefully analyzed the available players and made individual decisions as to what they thought those players were worth. If you look back and have been watching very carefully, at the end of the year you'll look at the performance of those players and I'm pretty sure, based on what's already in the books, you're going to make the judgement that the clubs made sound decisions.''
They couldn't even agree on the potential of adding the DH to the NL. Clark said discussion of a universal DH was "gaining momentum" among players, but Manfred said "the most likely outcome is the status quo.''
The most pressing topic at the All-Star Game was what uniform SS Manny Machado will be wearing when play resumes Friday, with the Orioles reportedly having a deal in place to trade him. The Dodgers have been reported as the favorites, with the Phillies and Brewers also in play. Machado said in the AL clubhouse before the game, likely his last in an Orioles uniform, that he hadn't heard from anybody official and was trying to stay focused. "I don't expect anything to be honest. I'm just trying to not worry about it,'' he said. "If it happens is happens. If it doesn't I'll be there (with the Orioles)." The Rays play at the Orioles July 26-29.
This was the 89th All-Star Game; the series stood at 43-43-2, with each team having scored 361 runs. The AL had won the last five. … Rays LHP Blake Snell was among 32 first-time All-Stars. … Thirty Medal of Honor recipients were honored during pre-game ceremonies, with the players coming over to greet them. James McCloughan threw out the first pitch. … Heavy rains roared through Washington late Tuesday afternoon, but the game started on time and dry at 82 degrees.