published Friday, April 8th, 2011, updated April 8th, 2011 at 4:57 p.m.

Rays slugger Manny Ramirez tells MLB he’s retiring

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    Tampa Bay Rays' Manny Ramirez reacts after striking out in the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels Tuesday, April 5, 2011, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)

NEW YORK — Tampa Bay Rays slugger Manny Ramirez told Major League Baseball on Friday that he is retiring after being notified of an issue that arose under MLB’s drug policy.

The commissioner’s office announced Ramirez’s decision in a statement, but did not say whether he tested positive for a banned substance. Ramirez previously served a 50-game suspension for violating the drug policy while he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“Major League Baseball recently notified Manny Ramirez of an issue under Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program,” the statement said. “Rather than continue with the process under the Program, Ramirez has informed MLB that he is retiring as an active player. If Ramirez seeks reinstatement in the future, the process under the Drug Program will be completed.”

MLB said it would have no further comment.

“The Tampa Bay Rays were informed today by the Commissioner’s Office that Manny Ramirez has decided to retire after being informed of an issue under the Drug Program,” the Rays said in a statement. “We are obviously surprised and disappointed by this news. We will have no further comment on this matter, and our fans and organization will carry on.”

The 38-year-old outfielder-designated hitter left the team earlier this week to attend to what the Rays called a family matter. Manager Joe Maddon said on Thursday that he expected Ramirez to be available for Friday night’s game at the Chicago White Sox.

The 12-time All-Star agreed to a $2 million, one-year contract with the defending AL East champions in the offseason, hoping to re-establish himself as one of the game’s feared hitters.

Ramirez hit .298 with nine homers and 42 RBIs in 90 games for the Dodgers and White Sox last season. He’s a career .312 hitter with 555 home runs in 18-plus seasons, including some of his best seasons with the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox.

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