Ortiz and Ramirez were members of the Red Sox at the time and in 2004 helped the club end an 86-year streak in which they hadn't won a World Series.
"One, I have already contacted the Players Association to confirm if this report is true. I have just been told that the report is true," Ortiz said in his statement. "Based on the way I have lived my life, I am surprised to learn I tested positive. Two, I will find out what I tested positive for. And, three, based on whatever I learn, I will share this information with my club and the public. You know me -- I will not hide and I will not make excuses."
In St. Louis for a series against the Cardinals, Ramirez deflected questions about Thursday's report.
"If you guys want to talk about the game and what happens now, I can sit and talk for two hours. But something happened six years ago, I don't want to talk about that," Ramirez said. "If you want more information, you have the number for the union. Call them."
Ramirez was suspended for 50 games earlier this season for testing positive to what was later reported to be a fertility drug. He apologized to his friends, fans and teammates, didn't contest the suspension, and returned to action on July 3.
Ramirez said Thursday's news would not change his or Ortiz's approach to the game.
"One more thing: me and David are like two mountains," Ramirez said. "We'll still keep doing good, no matter what. That's the way it's going to be. We're going to keep playing the game. We'll try to move forward. That's the key here. We're still going to be doing good. Only God can move those two mountains."
In 2003, 5-to-7 percent of the players tested positive for using performance-enhancing drugs, reaching a threshold that led to the establishment of MLB's current drug policy that includes random testing and was renegotiated three times. In '03, there were no punitive measures and the names were not supposed to be disclosed. Suspensions and/or fines began in '04.
Regarding the '03 results, the Players Association was supposed to destroy the tests, but officers of the federal government -- investigating the case against the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) -- seized them under a warrant from an MLB-approved lab. They are still in government possession and the union continues to contest the seizure with the case at the federal appellate court level.
Previously, the names of Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, Jason Grimsley and David Segui were revealed on that list of 104 players. And though the list has been the subject of spirited debate among fans, players and the media about what should be done with the remainder of the names, the tests are supposed to be under court seal and the union again on Thursday said it would fight to maintain that legal privacy.
"Today, The New York Times, once again, reports what it asserts to be information contained in documents under court seal," the union said. "And precisely for that reason, the Players Association will not, indeed cannot, comment on whether the information is accurate. But there should be no mistake. The leaking of information under a court seal is a crime. The active pursuit of information that may not lawfully be disclosed because it is under court seal is a crime. That its informants, according to the Times, are lawyers is both shocking and sad. That the Times is pursuing and publishing what it openly declares to be information which may not be legally disclosed is equally sad.
"We intend to take the appropriate legal steps to see that the court orders are enforced."
Major League Baseball deferred any comments about the remaining names on the list to the union.
"We have no comment because Major League Baseball has no knowledge of the names that are on the list," said MLB vice president of public relations Pat Courtney.
After Thursday's game at Fenway Park -- an 8-5 Boston victory over the A's in which Ortiz hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning to give Boston a 6-5 lead -- Ortiz reiterated what he said in his pregame statement: that he would disclose any information whenever he knows it.
"All I have to say right now is I found out like an hour before the game about the situation and, as you guys know, I never turn my back on you guys," Ortiz said. "I've always been a true guy with you guys. Honestly, right now, I don't have any information about it. I'm going to get more info about the situation and I'm going to honestly tell you guys what's up. Right now, I don't have any answers. I've got no information. The next few days, I'm going to get some information about it."
According to the Times, new information on Ortiz and Ramirez sprang from interviews with persons connected to pending litigation.
Ortiz had been let go by the Twins following the 2002 season, and after signing a one-year, $1.25 million contract with the Red Sox, set personal highs with 31 home runs and 101 RBIs in 2003. Ortiz continued improving on those statistics, compiling 148 RBIs in 2005 and 54 homers the following season.
Unlike Ramirez, Ortiz had never before been connected to performance-enhancing drugs. But his initial handling of the disclosure on Thursday drew praise from Terry Francona, his manager.
"We admire his approach to this, which is, he's not going to run from it, he's not going to hide from it," Francona said after the game. "The first thing he needed to find out was whether he indeed tested positive or not, and he confirmed that this afternoon talking to the union. Now he needs to find out what he tested positive for. He needs some time to get some answers and then he's going to stand up and answer every question. I admire that courage."