No plans to trade Ramirez
Report of a Mets deal is shot down
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Losing Pedro Martinez to the Mets is one thing. But sending Manny Ramirez to Shea Stadium is something the Red Sox have no plans to consider, despite reports that the Mets inquired about trading for the 2004 World Series MVP.
A high-ranking Sox official said the team has no immediate interest in parting with Ramirez, who has four years remaining on his eight-year, $160 million contract. The Sox also have options to retain Ramirez in 2009 and 2010 for $20 million each season.
Ramirez, 32, hit .308 with 130 RBIs and led the American League in home runs (43) and slugging percentage (.613), among other categories, after the Sox effectively tried to give away his contract last winter by placing him on irrevocable waivers (no team claimed him). While Sox executives have said no player is untouchable in their quest to improve the club over the long term, they made clear to the Mets they intended to hold onto Ramirez.
General manager Theo Epstein declined to directly address his talks with Mets GM Omar Minaya. But he left little doubt there was no substance to the prospect of Ramirez playing next season for the Mets. Epstein suggested the reports about Ramirez resulted from chatter in the lobby of the Anaheim Marriott, the headquarters of the annual winter baseball meetings, which ended yesterday.
"You guys know the accuracy level of the lobby these days," he said.
As for closed-door talks between general managers, Epstein said, "There are so many names bandied about, but very few actually reach a level of seriousness."
New York Newsday reported that the Mets would like to send Cliff Floyd to the Sox for Ramirez. A Sox official said the team has no interest in Floyd. The Sox had considered trading for Mets shortstop Kaz Matsui before they turned their attention to Edgar Renteria.
McMillon nears deal
The Sox were close to signing veteran outfielder Billy McMillon to a minor league contract and inviting him to compete for a backup job on the parent club. McMillon, 33, has hit .248 with a .322 on-base percentage over six seasons with the Marlins, Phillies, Tigers, and A's. He hit .185 with three homers and 11 RBIs in 52 games last season for the A's.
The Sox gambled $50,000 in acquiring Double A outfielder Adam Stern from the Braves in the major league phase of the Rule 5 draft. Stern, 24, hit .322 with eight homers, 47 RBIs, 27 steals, and a .378 on-base percentage last season for Greenville and was named Atlanta's Double A player of the year.
A native of Ontario who played for the University of Nebraska and the 2004 Canadian Olympic team, the lefthanded hitter will compete for a job in spring training. He must be offered back to the Braves for $25,000 if the Sox opt against keeping him on the major league roster the entire season.
"We feel like he's on the verge of turning the corner to become a major league player," said Ben Cherington, Boston's director of player development. "He gives us another option in spring training."
The Sox also selected infielder Tony Granadillo from the Cardinals in the Triple A phase of the draft and righthander Steve Langone from the Dodgers in the Double A phase. Langone played for Reading High School and Boston College.
The Sox also acquired minor league righthander Victor Prieto from Washington for cash considerations after the Nationals selected Prieto from the Marlins in the Triple A phase. Prieto, a 21-year-old Venezuelan, went 0-11 with and 11.54 ERA in Single A and rookie ball last season, but the Sox liked his potential.
Boston's top pick in the 2000 draft, Rick Asadoorian of Whitinsville, Mass., moved from the Rangers to the Reds in the Triple A phase of the Rule 5 draft. The Sox lost only one player, righthander Milton Tavarez. Tavarez, 22, was selected in the Double A phase by the Blue Jays after he went 1-4 with a 4.55 ERA and five saves in 47 games last season for Single A Augusta.
Close call for Wallace
Sox pitching coach Dave Wallace is out of the hospital after a frightening car accident in Bellingham, Mass., last week which left him unconscious for 8 to 10 hours, he said yesterday.
"[The doctors] were pretty worried for a while," Wallace said.
He is scheduled to undergo neurological tests to make sure there are no aftereffects from the accident in which his automobile was struck by a car driven by Dan Klecko of the Patriots, according to a police report.
Wallace said he was unable to recall many specifics of the accident, which he said occurred Wednesday afternoon. "I had just dropped off my stepson at the health club and was running some errands," he said. "I didn't have my seat belt on. I was turning left on a green arrow, and the police report says Dan Klecko . . . hit me."
Wallace was taken to the hospital with a concussion and wasn't discharged until Friday night.
Back a sore spot
The team's top prospect, Hanley Ramirez, who could face a less certain future with the Sox if they complete their acquisition of Renteria, is expected to miss about two weeks of action in the Dominican Winter League with soreness in his lower back. Ramirez ranks among the league leaders in several batting categories. He is scheduled to be invited to the major league camp in spring training and start the season either at Triple A Pawtucket or Double A Portland, although the Sox may need to move him to acquire a major league pitcher after Martinez's departure . . . The Sox sold 197,177 tickets Saturday at their "Christmas at Fenway" event, eclipsing last year's record of 120,000, which they sold over two days. The Sox said they will put their remaining tickets for next season on sale in January or February . . . The late Sox broadcaster Ken Coleman is a finalist for the National Baseball Hall of Fame's 2005 Ford C. Frick Award.
Gordon Edes of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.