I visited with him and told him it was not just in his best interests, but in the ballclub's best interests that he sit and clear his head, take a few deep breaths, and he agreed. ... He's got some things flying around. I've got an obligation to everyone in the ballclub to communicate, set things straight, and in some situations reassure people.We are always told about Manny's great ability to block out all outside stuff, to focus on the game, on his current at-bat. What about all those stupid comments -- "Manny doesn't even know what team he's playing" or (before the 2004 season) "Manny probably doesn't even know about the possible A-Rod trade". Now, suddenly, he's hyper-sensitive and needs three days off (he won't play today either, according to Tito). It makes no sense.
According to the Providence Journal, "Ramirez told manager Terry Francona 30 minutes before gametime that he wasn't going to play, only to return 20 minutes later with a change of heart, offering to once again be put in the lineup. By then, however, the Red Sox manager wasn't about to accommodate him ..."
Ramirez was announced as being in the lineup over the PA, but "when the Sox took the field Millar went out to left, deepening the Manny mystery. Fans were stunned and went mute." ... After the game, Ramirez joined the team on the field for congratulations, and waved to the crowd on his way back to the dugout.
On the trade front, the consensus is that Manny will stay -- Jayson Stark reports that any deal is "99.9 percent dead" -- but who knows? We got a pretty big shock around the end of last year's deadline.
Michael Silverman has some interesting gossip in the Herald. Quoting "a source close to Ramirez, authorized to speak for the slugger", Silverman writes:
They [Manny and Francona] don't talk, they haven't spoken since the first day Ramirez came. He's had it for Manny for a while. The friction's been there for a while. Manny's not his kind of player - Francona has one way of thinking and there's one type of player he wants on his team and that's not Manny. ... I think he can get through this, but he has to be allowed to play in his kind of atmosphere. You can't make him be someone he's not. He believes the clubhouse is not what it was last year. It's not fun. Pedro was Pedro, Manny was Manny, Millar was Millar. This year, you have players trying to be GMs.The source also said that before the game last Wednesday against Tampa's Seth McClung,
David Ortiz said aloud to Schilling, 'Man, that guy's got some nasty stuff,' to which Schilling supposedly responded, 'Yeah, that's why Manny took the day off.' Ramirez then supposedly said to Schilling, 'Screw you, I can hit anyone in baseball, including your ass.' ... Ramirez went up to Schilling and, before the confrontation escalated, Ortiz had to separate the two.When Francona was asked about the incident, he did not deny it:
I don't have anything to say about that. ... If a player has something to say about somebody and they handle it and they get to the point where it gets a little loud, if that player runs to you, that sort of takes away some of the reality of it. Those things happen all the time with teams.In a pay column in the Herald, Steve Buckley writes:
Now before we commence with our obligatory beating of Manny, let's stop the presses for a moment and put it out there that the Red Sox are not entirely blameless in this mess. If you begin with the premise that it was the Red Sox who leaked the Manny-wants-out story, with CEO Larry Lucchino conveniently popping up on the morning-drive airwaves to confirm the team's own whispers, then is it remotely possible that Ramirez had a reason to dredge up his ever-aching hamstrings and take to his sick bed?The Red Sox traded for outfielder Jose Cruz Jr., sending two minor leaguers -- infielder Kenny Perez and right-hander pitcher Kyle Bono -- to Arizona. ... Matt Clement threw 30 pitches in the bullpen yesterday and then asked Francona if he could start in his normal spot on Tuesday. Francona said no. "I felt great, I felt normal. But I don't have a lot of say about how I'm going to be used. ... I think Thursday is what I'm looking at."
Top prospect Jon Papelbon makes his major league debut this afternoon, opposite Brad Radke at 2:00.