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Should the Cleveland Indians fire Terry Francona and Carl Willis? Hey, Hoynsie

Hey, Hoynsie: There were media reports during the season from the Dominican Republic that Jose Ramirez used performance enhancing drugs and was about to get suspended. He denied it, and that was that. However, his drop in production in August through the end of the postseason is similar to reports of players who have used steroids, stopped before coming to spring training, only to see production tail off in the latter part of the year. In the Indians’ front office is this a don’t ask/don’t tell issue? Is it a concern that gets discussed? — Glenn Toplyn, Pittsfield, Mich.

Hey, Glenn: That rumor surfaced at the end of May on a blog in the Dominican Republic that had no connection to any news agency. When it came to light, the Indians immediately called MLB and were told there was no truth to the rumor. 

Ramirez was hitting .291 (58-for-199) in 51 of the Indians’ first 52 games this season when the rumor popped. Here’s what he hit over the last four months of the season: .267 (24-for-90) with six homers and 12 RBI in June; .322 (29-for-90), 8, 25 in July; .245 (.23-for-94), 5, 16 in August and .185 (17-for-92) 2, 12 in September.

Ramirez has played four plus years in the big leagues. Here are his career numbers from June through September/October in the regular season: .299 (91-for-304), 12, 34 in June; .306 (96-for-314) 15, 56 in July; .271 (134-for-483), 14, 56 in August and .291 (40-for-481) in September/October.

The biggest statistical difference in Ramirez’s 2018 season and his career numbers is in September/October.  If a player did a cycle of steroids during the offseason, stopped at a certain points in the offseason in hopes that he wouldn’t test positive in spring training, would it take that long to catch up to him? Or was this just a late-season slump?

I’ve been fooled too many times to say this or that player would never put an illegal substance in his body to perform better. But the amount of times MLB players are tested for PEDS during spring training and the regular season is high. MLB also conducts random offseason tests. Ramirez has never had a positive test and that isn’t a rumor.

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