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Going, going -- almost gone

The Red Sox handed out some 500 World Series rings, 18- karat white gold encrusted with diamonds and adorned with a ruby B, to commemorate the curse-breaking, electrifying victory in 2004.

One went to an aging baseball scout in Puerto Rico named Cucho Rodriguez, who is now offering it to the highest bidder.

Rodriguez has retired, recently broke his wrist, and is preparing to move into a nursing home, so he is selling his ring on eBay, the Internet auction site. The leading bid yesterday was $15,655.55, with the auction scheduled to conclude this evening.

"It will give me more security if I get sick," Rodriguez said yesterday in Spanish in a telephone interview from his home in San Juan. "I am 82. I have to think of myself."

A Cuban who fled his homeland in 1964, Rodriguez stayed single and dedicated his life to the game, coaching in his adopted homeland and scouring the Caribbean for big league talent.

John Blake, a spokesman for the Red Sox, confirmed that Rodriguez scouted for the team and received a ring but declined to comment further.

Rodriguez said he hopes to make at least $10,000 by selling another World Series ring he won when he scouted for the Florida Marlins. His heart, however, remains with the Sox.

"It was the last team I worked for, and they treated me very well," Rodriguez said.

The Boston ring is adorned on one side with the name Rodriguez over an image of a giant World Series trophy inside Fenway Park. The other side says, "The Greatest Comeback in History 2004."

"I'm single. I don't have kids," Rodriguez said. "If I died today, the ring would be lost."