LOS ANGELES - J.C. Romero is back with the Phillies after serving a 50-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's drug policy.
Across the way at Dodger Stadium last night, the other team awaited the return of Manny Ramirez, eligible to come back from his 50-game suspension on July 3.
Romero, who said he had "butterflies" during his 11/3-inning stint Wednesday night in a 5-1 victory over the San Diego Padres, said he and Ramirez exchanged text messages earlier, but haven't spoken recently.
"He did it before his situation, and I did it after I heard about his," Romero said. "That was the last time I actually reached out to him. In a situation like this, you really have to have some time to reflect into what went on. I understand it because I can identify with what is happening, even though the cases are not similar."
Both players have claimed there were extenuating circumstances. Romero understands that, in some ways, the point is moot.
"Even so, a suspension is a suspension, no matter what. Being suspended 50 games is not an easy thing to go through," he said.
Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee said he was pleased with Romero's return, even though the Padres managed an unearned run as Romero allowed two hits and a walk.
The Phillies won easily behind seven scoreless innings from J.A. Happ and Ryan Howard's two-run homer in the first inning.
"He was fine. Same J.C. Romero," Dubee said. "He's been a big piece here the last couple of years."
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel welcomed Romero back, and said he would welcome Ramirez to the National League all-star team he will manage - if Ramirez is voted on to it.
"Major League Baseball has rules, and to me if you are eligible and you can play, why shouldn't you play? That's how I look at it," said Manuel, who worked with Ramirez when both were in the Cleveland organization.
Asked whether he ever had suspicions about Ramirez, Manuel said, "I never suspected. I never look for things like that."
He added his opinion of Ramirez hasn't changed much.
"Not really. I knew him when he was 17 years old, and he could hit then. He's been a tremendous hitter," Manuel said.
"My first reaction - I was surprised. I definitely didn't want anything wrong or bad to happen to Manny. At the same time, I also look at it as Major League Baseball has rules and guidelines and when you do something wrong, or you do something where a penalty is in line, they are supposed to enforce rules. As a manager, I feel the same way about my team. When there is a rule, when somebody breaks it, you've got to enforce it. I feel like that's the case here."
It was the case. In both dugouts.
"I'm glad it's over," Romero said. "But sometimes I put my head in the pillow. I still have flashes of that feeling when I found out I was going to be suspended."
Last night's game in Los Angeles ended too late for this edition. For coverage, go to http://go.philly.com/phillies
Next: Phillies (Moyer 4-5) at Dodgers (Milton 2-0),
tonight at 10:10.
TV/Radio: CSN; WPHT-AM (1210).