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Star returns to field, gets cold reception

It came as no surprise when Manny Ramirez did not show up in the Red Sox clubhouse after the Sox' 8-5 victory victory over the Twins last night.

For starters, he wasn't seen until shortly before the game started.

Even his halfhearted effort to catch a Lew Ford double in the seventh inning -- which ricocheted off the Wall to Johnny Damon -- wasn't a first for the left fielder.

But when the Fenway crowd appeared split with boos and cheers at the sound of Ramirez's name, it was something new. It was as if the fans took a stand. It seemed many were no longer on his side.

It was a reaction slugger David Ortiz simply could not understand.

''I don't think what our fans did today to Manny was fair at all. He didn't say nothing [about the booing], but it bothers you," Ortiz said. ''Especially, this guy, man, he was here way before I got here and way before a lot of players got here. The guy leaves his heart and soul out there every day for our fans to be treating him bad like that. I don't care what kind of rumor we have out there. I don't care what people are saying. You've got to see everything from every single point, and the guy, he has done the job here."

Boos accompanied Ramirez, who went 0 for 3 with a strikeout and a walk, in each of his three trips to the plate and when his name was announced before the game. His first at-bat (a ground out to third) provoked the loudest of his unpleasant receptions.

The Ramirez deserters popped up amid reports he wants out of Boston -- not enough privacy here, he says.

On Thursday, Red Sox president Larry Lucchino confirmed Ramirez had asked to be dealt before Sunday's trade deadline but insisted the request was nothing out of the ordinary for the temperamental left fielder.

Yesterday more rumors surrounded Ramirez, as the possibility of a three-team trade with the New York Mets and Tampa Bay Devil Rays surfaced. Still, before last night's game, manager Terry Francona seemed unconcerned by the speculation.

''Manny has the occasional bump in the road and you deal with it the best you can," he said. ''Our job is to get the most out of these players. We do the best we can. Is it always Mr. Rogers neighborhood? No. It's got grownups. Once in a while you've got to get a little agitated. It's not the end of the world. That's kind of how I view it."

First baseman Kevin Millar said while the situation does bother the team, it won't disturb the clubhouse relationships.

''Welcome to Sox Nation. I saw Pedro Martinez get booed off the mound in 2003," Millar said. ''I was like, 'Man if they're booing Pedro, I'm in trouble.' Sure enough, down the road, I've been in trouble. It's all part of it. It's all part of the rumor mill, the 24-hour talk shows and radio shows. All part of the front page of the newspapers. One little thing gets blown up and you're in a no-win situation as a player because we don't have the power of the pen.

''The bottom line is that Manny Ramirez had a day off on Wednesday is OK. I took a day off in Chicago and it wasn't front page. But Manny Ramirez has a day off and we play in Tampa Bay. If we're not confident to start Adam Stern in the big leagues in right field, then why is he on the major league roster?"

Ortiz, who said Ramirez was in the clubhouse player's lounge before last night's game, urged fans to remember what Ramirez has done for the team in years past, and cautioned what losing him might mean for the Red Sox in the future.

''We're here to represent this city, this ballclub, and if Manny's out of here, it's going to be hard on everybody," said Ortiz. ''Simple as that. Manny's one of the best hitters in the game. How do you replace a guy like that?"

Ortiz said Ramirez's mood in the clubhouse is no different and that during the game he was bantering with the fans in the outfield. Ramirez didn't let on that the crowd bothered him, but Ortiz got right to the heart of the matter.

''Let me tell you, he's a human being just like everyone else," said Ortiz. ''You know what I mean? I'm telling you, he's got feelings, like everyone. I haven't seen the first player ever that in his hometown gets booed and it doesn't bother him at all. I haven't seen the first one. You tell me one."

Amalie Benjamin of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

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