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Manny's March: Late to Sox; no WBC?

Posted by Gordon Edes, Globe Staff  February 21, 2006 12:10 PM

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Manny Ramirez will be late to Red Sox spring training, but the slugger may not miss much Grapefruit League action because he might skip the World Baseball Classic.

The Red Sox and Manny Ramirez today issued the following joint statement:

Terry Francona
Terry Francona delivers the news about Manny's arrival date. (Globe Staff Photo / Barry Chin)

“With the permission of the Boston Red Sox, Manny Ramirez will report to spring training in Fort Myers on March 1, 2006. Manny is in Florida completing an extensive training regimen, and is prepared to have an exceptional season.”

Francona said he and Ramirez spoke over the phone last night, and added that he was "OK with this."

"Manny was very honest, very forthright, very amicable," Francona said, "and he assures us he will be here on March 1 and ready to go."

Players who will be participating in the World Baseball Classic are scheduled to report to their WBC teams on March 2. Ramirez is currently on the Dominican Republic’s provisional roster, but it should not be considered a lock that he is going to play in the Classic. In fact, there is a strong likelihood that Manny won’t be on the Dominicans’ final roster when it is announced.

If Manny has decided to pull out of the Classic, it's news to Bud Selig. The baseball commissioner said this afternoon he had not yet been informed that Manny would not be participating.

Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein has refused comment on his discussions with Ramirez, saying they are between the club and the player. However, it's no secret that Manny is less than content in Boston.

"There are a lot of factors involved, some of them are personal, some are family related," Epstein said. "He assured us that by staying in Miami and continuing to work with his personal trainer, continuing his regimen, that he wouldn't be behind. In the end, after talking to him, we were OK with accommodating him. It's not perfect, but we're going to support him through this."

Ramirez again requested to be traded after last season. One of his representatives even communicated to the Red Sox that Manny would not report to spring training if his wish to be dealt was not met. The team recently expressed confidence that Manny would report, however.

Pitcher Curt Schilling said he wasn't concerned about the delay granted to Ramirez.

"It happens all the time, guys all over the big leagues show up at different times," he said. "He'll be ready to play."

"Manny's one of those guys who if he didn't show up for spring training I'd still know he'd be ready for the season when the season started," Schilling said.

David Ortiz, scheduled to play for the Dominican Republic, said Tuesday he had "no idea" if Ramirez still would play in the WBC, but he's not concerned about Ramirez missing camp.

"You tell me that he's not gonna be here for the season, I understand, but this is camp. He knows what he's gotta do to be ready," Ortiz said.

Position players are due in town on Wednesday, the day before the first workout.

Boston starts its exhibition schedule on March 2 against Minnesota.

Ramirez batted .292 with 45 homers and 144 RBIs last year. He said during the season (and after it) he didn't want to stay with the Red Sox, a statement he's made in many of his five years with the club.

"I think Manny knows that we have made a good faith effort to meet his ... request," Jed Hoyer, then Boston's co-general manager, said Jan. 12. "We haven't found a deal that works for us."

On Sunday, Ortiz said he didn't know where Ramirez was.

"I talked to Manny like a week ago and he was going to Italy tomorrow," Ortiz said.

He must have been joking, Ortiz decided, since Ramirez probably couldn't get back in time for Thursday's workout.

"He seems happy," Ortiz said. "I read in the news that he wants to stay in Boston. Something like that, right? That's good. Sounds good to me. Having my man around once again. Hopefully, things never change."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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