Perhaps it was no coincidence that Manny Ramírez, following his tape-measure home runs last night, bolted out of the box, more concerned with running the bases than relishing in his exploits.
Alex Rodriguez, during Red Sox batting practice yesterday, walked over to Ramírez, who the previous night lingered for an exceptionally long time in the batter's box after unloading on a Scott Proctor fastball for a three-run homer. One group of nearby witnesses said the exchange looked tense, and it's possible that A-Rod was relaying some advice to Ramírez.
``Manny's one of my best friends," Rodriguez said. ``Don't read into that."
Even if Rodriguez approached Ramírez as a friend, it's quite possible that he was delivering a message. Rodriguez also talked with Doug Mirabelli, who criticized the Yankee third baseman Tuesday night for the way he reacted to hitting his own home run.
Rodriguez, a half-inning before Ramírez homered, hit a lengthy home run to left-center off Tim Wakefield. Rodriguez, though, acted as if he'd popped up the ball in the infield, immediately scanning the sky overhead for a few seconds before finally picking up the ball's path.
Mirabelli, after Tuesday's game, said, ``He squared that ball up. I don't believe he didn't know where that ball was. He's hit too many home runs to think that ball wasn't hammered."
Privately, Rodriguez was upset about Mirabelli's comment. But, asked about their conversation, said, ``I'm not going to talk about that."
Johnny Damon, after Tuesday's game, was asked about Ramírez gazing at his homer without moving his feet and said, ``I guess we're a little upset."
Sox manager Terry Francona, when asked about the Ramírez incident before last night's game, pleaded innocent, saying, ``Did [the Yankees] make a big deal out of it?"
He then added, ``Alex didn't see his, so are we mad at him?"
Francona's overall stance: ``I don't care if they watch it. I don't care if we watch it. I just want to hit more than them. I don't care how long it takes them to get around the bases. I just hope we get a lot more than them."
Still, it was interesting last night to watch Ramírez (3 for 4, 3 RBIs) demolish a Randy Johnson fastball in the first inning, cranking one well over the Sports Authority sign atop the Monster seats. This time, he quietly set down his bat to the right side of the batter's box and quickly exited the box. He did so again in the seventh inning, when he ripped a solo shot to left off Proctor for his fourth homer in three days against the Yankees.
``Again," Francona had said before the game, ``the perception of Manny may never be accurate because of what access he allows you guys. But what I see I'm real pleased with."
Ramirez went 2 for 2 with a two-run homer, double, walk, two RBIs, and two runs against Johnson. Entering the game, he was 2 for 20 with no homers and 3 RBIs vs. lefties at home. He's hitting .488 (21 for 43) with four homers and 12 RBIs vs. righthanders at Fenway.
Crisp said he'll wear a white plastic brace on his left hand while running the bases and a black elastic sheath on his index and middle fingers while batting.
``I don't feel any discomfort swinging a bat," he said.
Francona said Crisp will be restored to his leadoff spot, with Mark Loretta remaining in the two-hole and Kevin Youkilis dropping in the order, despite the fact that he went into last night 13th in the majors in on-base percentage (.423). ``I think Coco's got a lot of value in the leadoff spot, and believe me we value on-base percentage and Youk gives us that and he's done a great job with that," Francona said. ``What Coco brings with his speed is very important. I think it makes Loretta better, I think it makes pitchers throw some pitches they don't want to, out of the slidestep, things like that. Just, again, when we got Coco there was
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no doubt he was going to lead off.
``I just think what has happened over the last six weeks is we have attained another proven hitter, a guy we think we can count on, in Youk, which is really good."
``I'm still debating it," Maddon said. ``In that ballpark it's much more difficult in my mind for it to be effective because of the short wall. I'm not saying that's going to prevent us from doing it, but that wall does injure the strategy a bit because he could just lob it off the wall at any time.
``We'll probably do it. We're sort of ambivalent right now. We're doing further research, checking out more sources. Once we get all the information we'll make the determination whether or not we shall go with the 3-4 defense."
Maddon calls it that because he went with three infielders and four outfielders. He moved the third baseman to left field and shifted the other outfielders to the right. He moved the shortstop to the second base position and moved the second baseman and first baseman to shallow right.
``It's kind of a dead issue," Snow said. ``I'd like it to just kind of go away, be dead, it's not that big of a deal. I didn't demand a trade. The day [in Baltimore May 17] a reporter said to me, `The only way it looks like you'd play more is if you got traded.' And then I said, `Yeah. Call my agent.' [My agent] said he had thrown my name out there.
``That was basically it. It's pretty much a dead deal. I'm happy staying here doing what I'm doing for the chance to win. The biggest thing is I'm willing to learn to do this."
Snow, before last night, had just 24 at-bats and six hits this season. He's on pace for just 90 at-bats. He averaged 348 the last three seasons in San Francisco. The Giants, according to yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle, may be interested in reacquiring Snow if Lance Niekro's shoulder bursitis becomes a long-term issue.
Gordon Edes and Amalie Benjamin of the Globe staff contributed to this report.