Addressing a Manny Ramirez rumor

According to a report on ESPNdeportes.com, scouts for the Oriolesand Blue Jays watched Manny Ramirez take indoor batting practice in Miami.

Nothing stirs up the masses like Manny.

Asked earlier today whether he could confirm the report, Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said, "I heard that Manny has been working out down there."

Asked again about the Orioles' interest, Duquette said, "We're aware that he's working out down there."

Fred Ferreira, the Orioles' executive director of international scouting, and manager Buck Showalter watched Ramirez hit in a cage shortly after the Winter Meetings in Dallas, which concluded Dec. 8.

"People have been trying to link us to Ramirez because I signed him in Boston, " Duquette said, "and they've been doing that ever since he said that he wanted to play ball again."

Ramirez signed an eight-year, $160 million contract with the Red Sox in December 2000, while Duquette served as their general manager.

Whichever team signs Ramirez must wait for him to serve a 50-game suspension following a second positive test for performance-enhancing drugs. The original 100-game suspension was reduced after he applied for reinstatement.

Ramirez, a career .312 hitter with 555 home runs in 19 major league seasons, retired after playing only five games with the Rays last season.

The Orioles are in the market for a designated hitter, which also fuels speculation that they'll make a run at Ramirez, who turns 40 on May 30.

"Any team that signs him, he can't play for 50 days anyway," Duquette said. "I'm not sure it's a January story."

Well, pretty much anything involving Ramirez is a story.

"He's always interesting and highly entertaining," Duquette said.

So, who would serve as the Orioles' designated hitter if the season started tomorrow?

"If the season started tomorrow, it couldn't be Manny Ramirez," Duquette said.

True enough.

Duquette confirmed that the Orioles retain interest in Luke Scott, who was non-tendered last month. However, they don't appear to be in a big rush to open up negotiations on a new contract.

At least 11 teams have expressed some level of interest in Scott. The Angels apparently are one of those clubs.

"We know Luke Scott," Duquette said.

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