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Ortiz expects new Sox deal

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- David Ortiz's distress at the breakup of a World Series winner, most notably the departure of Johnny Damon to the Yankees, has not shaken his desire to prolong his own stay with the Red Sox. Ortiz said last night he believes there is a good chance he will sign a long-term contract extension with the club before the start of spring training.

Ortiz is due to be paid $6.5 million this season in the last year of the two-year, $12.5 million extension he signed in May 2004. In addition, the club holds an option on the 2007 season, which was bumped up automatically from $7.75 million to $8.4 million when Ortiz finished second in the American League MVP voting in 2005. But Ortiz said his agent, Fernando Cuza, has spoken this winter with both principal owner John W. Henry and CEO Larry Lucchino, and that they expressed great interest in striking a deal soon.

''They haven't said for how long [the extension would run]," Ortiz said. ''I have two more years. I'd like another four or five years more. I think that would be perfect. By that time I'd be 36, so we'll see.

''I would like to stay. Boston has been good to me. Yes, the owners really want to make this happen. I guess they want, with all that's been going on, to give Boston some good news."

Ortiz, who began playing this week in the Dominican winter league playoffs, also acknowledged that he has spoken with good friend Miguel Tejada about a possible trade to Boston, after Tejada went public with his unhappiness with the floundering Orioles. And Ortiz reacted with some skepticism to the latest report that Manny Ramírez has decided he would prefer to remain with Boston.

''I talked to [Tejada] once, and he told me that he didn't want to start anything, but he was a little disappointed that Baltimore wasn't a team ready to compete, especially in that division," said Ortiz. ''He likes to compete. He likes to win. He doesn't like to play just to play and go home at the end of the season.

''Oh, man, he's outstanding. He plays all out."

Asked to assess the chances that the Orioles would trade Tejada in a swap for Ramírez, Ortiz said, ''I think it would be crazy. I've never seen a team trading a player to a team in the same division. That would be tough. But who knows? They might."

Local reporters swarmed Ortiz last night, asking him about a report in which a Santo Domingo-based columnist, Enrique Rojas, said he spoke with Ramírez in Miami yesterday and Ramírez told him he wanted to stay in Boston.

''There will be no trade, I'm staying in Boston, where I'm familiar with the system and where I have a lot of friends, especially David Ortiz," Ramírez was quoted as saying on

Ortiz said he had not spoken with Ramírez recently, so he did not know what accounted for the supposed change of heart.

''I have no idea," Ortiz said. ''We haven't talked about it. I don't know. I have no clue. I think Boston has been good to Manny. Manny does whatever he wants to do in Boston, and nobody messes around with him. I told him, 'Think about it before you get any ideas.'

''Man, I don't know. Manny always changes his mind. Every year he comes up with some new stuff. He's a boxful of surprises. You never know what he wants."

Ortiz's doubts about the latest Ramírez flip-flop evidently were well placed. Ramírez's agent, Greg Genske, told columnist Ken Rosenthal that he called Ramírez after learning of the slugger's remarks, and Ramírez denied making the comments.

''If Boston is able to work out a trade with Baltimore or another team, Manny is still open to making a move," Genske said.

Ortiz, who owns a home just west of Boston, said he has never encountered the type of privacy issues Ramírez has complained about.

''My house is wide open, and nobody messes around with me," Ortiz said.

But the clubhouse won't be the same, Ortiz said, without Damon, who continues to call Ortiz, even after he signed with the Yankees.

''Crazy, man, that's some crazy stuff," Ortiz said, when asked his thoughts about Damon's departure. ''You know you got to sign a guy like that. Of course you want to have a player like JD on your team. This is crazy.

''I talk to Johnny a lot. He called me yesterday.

''He was, like, very disappointed that Boston didn't give him what he was asking for. He told me he told Boston what he was getting from the other side and I guess they didn't believe him.

''I wish him the best. He's my boy, man. He's my man. Fenway, when he has that first at-bat, people are going to be very confused. Johnny's not the kind of guy who should be booed, but when you go play for the Yankees, people don't like to see that. You can wear any other uniform."

That said, Ortiz hopes Sox fans will accord Damon the type of reception they gave Orlando Cabrera upon his return to Boston.

''I think people should appreciate what Johnny Damon gave the Red Sox, and at least on his first at-bat give him an ovation," Ortiz said. ''Johnny brought a lot of things to Boston. He won a World Series in Boston. He did a lot of good things in Boston."

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