February 24, 2005

Lords of the Rings. It's official. World Series rings will be issued to players and coaches prior to the afternoon home opener against the Yankees on April 11. The Rd Sox will issue an unprecedented 500 rings to players, coaches, management, and myriad team employees. The Globe's Chris Snow: "The ring will marry tradition and spectacle. The stately "B" logo will be angled exactly as it is on the team's caps and done with rubies. Each ring will include the recipient's name, which is not necessarily standard operating procedure. The rings will be white gold."

Hey look, it's more A-Rod comments:

Arroyo: "He was talking to the umpire like 10 minutes after the [slap] play and they had already called him out forever ago and I was just kind of looking over at him and smirking. And he said to the umpire, 'Look, he's laughing at you because you made the wrong call.' I didn't have any interaction with him other than that."

Millar: "A lot of us in this locker room, when we watch a guy like Derek Jeter play over and over again, he's a winner. I don't know if [Rodriguez] grasps for respect, but you don't need to tell people you're an upper-tier player. You don't need to tell people that you work out seven hours a day. That's an article that rubbed guys wrong. When you're a professional, you do your work."

Damon: "There've been many nights where I haven't been to bed at 6 in the morning. You know, if that's what it takes to be him, he's a heck of a player. If it takes getting up at 6 in the morning for him, that's great."

Millar: "Everybody in this game works out in the off-season. Everybody comes into shape. You're not going around having to promote [yourself]. That's where we've got so much respect for Derek Jeter. ... You never see him put on a fake mask in front of anybody. We respect that. We compete against these guys. I play first base. I talk to everybody in the big leagues. You know who's fake, you know who's not."

Arroyo: "If he's called me Brandon twice, it's probably intentional, I would think. I've heard he's a student of the game. ... Who knows? Maybe he thinks I'm a nobody."

Foulke: "Let him talk all he wants. Just ask him who's got the ring."

Arroyo: "You would think he'd know [my name]. It might be a mistake, but probably not. He's been listening to Tim McCarver." ... The next day, Foulke told Arroyo that if Rodriguez charges the mound against him, he'll have to deal with "Kevin Foulke."

Unnamed Red Sox player: "It doesn't matter who he plays for, guys just don't like him. Maybe because it's here, and because it's the Yankees, [we] hate him even more."

Slappy himself: "As far as earning your stripes, I really couldn't agree [more] with Trot Nixon and the guys that have said that because hopefully in due time, when I pay the price like Paul O'Neill and Roger Clemens did, then the fans of New York would realize that, hopefully, I'm a Yankee." ... Odd that he would cite Fat Billy as an example of a true Yankee.

And for good measure, here's Matt Mantei: "It's going to be a tough fit for Randy [in New York]. He doesn't like the media. He doesn't like fans. He doesn't like anybody. He's going to have a hard time. ... I don't like the Yankees. I don't think anybody does, except the Yankees. It's true, though."

Various sportswriters are tsk-tsking the Red Sox. Karen Guregian (Herald): "Red Sox players don't like Alex Rodriguez. Fine. We get it. He gets it. Everyone on the planet gets it. ... Championship teams are supposed to be above the fray, above the gutter talk. Only the Sox players keep shoveling the trash. ... It's time to clam up and play nice."

Howard Bryant (Herald): "Like the Yankees, the Red Sox know the feeling of being world champions. They have something else in common with New York: They are becoming one of the most hated teams in baseball. ... Executives and players from the Yankees, Orioles, Blue Jays, Angels and A's have all expressed this sentiment. 'It's called winning with class, and they haven't figured out how to do that,' said one Yankees player."

Murray Chass of the Times called the ongoing Slappy Ragapolooza "one of the most distasteful instances I have witnessed in 45 years of covering baseball" -- although to his credit Chass was referring more to his fellow writers taking players' quotes out of context.

And into camp strode David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, both as sunny as the Florida weather. "That's my personality," Ortiz said. "I can't change. If I change my father [will] hit me in the head with a bottle of water." Ortiz is also a little slimmer than last season. "I tried to stay away from the spoon. ... Everybody thinks I can be in GQ now." How did he spend his winter? "I only have one tape at home, the Red Sox one. I watch it over and over and over and over. I just watch that tape. It kind of hits me afterwards. When things are happening, you don't put attention to it, but when you're kicking back at home and you watch the DVD that they made for all of us, you realize, 'Man, I can't believe I did that.'"

Ramirez arrived with a headband with the flag of Brazil and dreadlocks with beads at the ends. ... Asked about his goals for 2005, he said, "I'm thinking, maybe, an average of .275 with 25 homers and, maybe, 100 RBI." When told he's averaged .321-38-116 during his first four seasons in Boston, Manny said: "I know. But this way I'm going to feel good about myself when I reach them." ... He told one reporter that David Ortiz has a reggae CD coming out. ... After being fitted for his World Series ring, Ramirez joked that he'd be selling his on eBay. ... Manny also said that after the last out was made in St. Louis, he tossed his glove and cap into the air during his sprint to the infield. He has no idea where they are "Maybe Mientkiewicz has them, too."

Bill Mueller is already in camp, stretching, running and hitting. He arrived last weekend with no noticeable limp. The Pro hopes to play the entire season.

Millar has also put on 15-20 pounds working out this winter -- not swinging some KFC drumsticks, presumably -- increasing his weight to about 220. The Cabin Mirror may also appear on "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy."

The 31-year-old Damon is in the last year of his 4/32 contract and would love to sign an extension and finish his career in Boston. Right now, I'd say the odds are not with him; maybe two years if he shines in 2005, but nothing more than that.

Jackie MacMullan has an absolutely hilarious story in the Globe on Della Grallert, who answered the phones at Fenway Park during home games last year. "It's amazing what people call for. It's everything from, 'That was a lousy call. Can you connect me to the umpires' room?' to 'Who is this guy the Red Sox have on the mound? Let me talk to Francona.'"

To hell with Crank Yankers. Air some of those calls on NESN!

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