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Ailing Ramirez said to be at hotel bar

Absentee Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez, who missed all three games of a critical weekend series with the New York Yankees because he said he was too ill to play, never made it to Fenway Park yesterday. That did not sit well with club officials looking into reports that Ramirez was spotted Saturday night in the bar of the Boston hotel in which he lives.

Channel 4, citing sources, reported last night that Ramirez had been seen in the bar of the Ritz-Carlton on Saturday. A bartender at the establishment said last night that he did not see Ramirez there Saturday night, but several members of the Yankees had been at the bar the previous night.

"If he was in here, I didn't see him," said Dennis Pinto, a bartender at the JER-NE Bar at the Ritz. "If I saw him, I would tell you. He lives here, so he can do what he wants."

Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein tersely offered "no comments" to any questions regarding Ramirez, including whether the team was aware of Ramirez's whereabouts Saturday night, and whether Ramirez was ill yesterday.

"I don't usually say this but no comment," president/CEO Larry Lucchino said. "No comment.

"You know, it's hard to say no comment, then comment on things you say. Let's just say that we don't know enough to comment. Let me state no comment on the entire scenario."

Red Sox manager Grady Little said yesterday that Ramirez was expected to accompany the team to Philadelphia today for a makeup game against the Phillies. The team bus to the airport was scheduled to leave Fenway Park at 7:45 a.m.

According to team doctor Bill Morgan, Ramirez had been diagnosed with pharyngitis, the same throat condition that caused Pedro Martinez to miss a start Aug. 21.

Ramirez became the first position player outside of Jeremy Giambi, who eventually underwent season-ending shoulder surgery, to miss at least three consecutive games because of injury or illness this season. His absence could not have come at a worse time. The Sox lost two of three to the Yankees to fall 5 1/2 games behind New York in the race for the American League East title.

Little held off making out yesterday's lineup card as long as he could, hoping that Ramirez, who was smiling and appeared in good spirits when he came to the clubhouse to be examined before Saturday's game, might be good to go. But by the end of batting practice, it became obvious that wasn't going to happen. Ramirez never made it to the ballpark yesterday, and with Johnny Damon's left knee a problem after his collision Saturday with Gabe Kapler, two-thirds of the Sox' starting outfield was not available to play.

Ramirez first reported his illness to trainer Jim Rowe Thursday night, when he had a sore throat and fever, according to Morgan, who during batting practice said he expected to see Ramirez at the ballpark. But just as the game began, club spokesman Kevin Shea said Ramirez, after saying he was too ill to play, was told not to come to the park. It was unclear whether Ramirez had called the team or contact had been initiated by the club.

Also factoring in the decision to have Ramirez remain home, Shea said, was concern that the illness could spread to other players. During batting practice, Morgan said he had not yet spoken to Ramirez.

Shea said last night that Ramirez could not be contacted for comment, and a call to his agent, Jeff Moorad, was not returned as of 10 p.m.

A throat culture was not taken from Ramirez before he was placed on antibiotics, Morgan said, so it was not known if he had picked up the virus from Martinez, who became ill Aug. 20, the night before he was to have started against the A's (he was scratched from that game). Pharyngitis is the medical term for a sore throat, and can be contagious. It often can develop into a more serious condition, like strep throat or mononucleosis.

Ramirez has been suffering from the same abdominal distress that accompanied Martinez's sore throat, Shea said.

In the last three seasons, Ramirez was hitting .331 against the Yankees in 40 games, with 12 home runs and 33 RBIs. His numbers against the Bombers this season were less impressive: .234 average, 2 home runs, and 7 RBIs in 13 games. But his loss was obviously a big one.

Little would not speculate on how long Ramirez would be out. Martinez, who pitched just four innings in Saturday's 10-7 loss, is still in a weakened state, the manager said.

"He was sick for a few days," Morgan said. "That can wipe you out for a couple of weeks. I don't know if you've had strep throat, but you can be wiped out for a few weeks."

Martinez's next start is scheduled for Friday in the first night of a three-game rematch in Yankee Stadium. Privately, Martinez suggested he had tried to come back too quickly from his illness, which may have accounted for his continued weakness Saturday. He indicated he felt pressured to come back too soon by those who questioned whether he should have pitched in his condition.

Ramirez also missed the final game before the All-Star break in Detroit after informing Little at 6 the morning of the game -- according to the Sox manager -- that his mother was ill and he was flying to her home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Little later said that Ramirez's mother had fainted. The Sox lost that game July 13, 3-0. A club official requesting anonymity said there was no plausible explanation why Ramirez would not want to play this weekend. "Not to my knowledge," he said. "But tell me who understands him."

Another team executive, also speaking on background, said last week Ramirez has not been happy in Boston from Day 1, though publicly the player has given little evidence of that this season.

Globe correspondent Maureen Mullen contributed to this report.

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