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Sox meet the president

Posted by David Lefort, Boston.com Staff  February 27, 2008 03:12 PM

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Members of the 2007 World Series champion Red Sox gathered on the White House lawn this afternoon and were honored by President George W. Bush (Check out photos).

Slugger David Ortiz, an odd sight in eyeglasses, carried the World Series trophy into the ceremony. Captain Jason Varitek presented Bush with a Red Sox jersey that read "Bush" on the back with the number "07."

Among those missing from the proceedings was Manny Ramirez, whose absence was noted by Bush.

"Sorry ... Manny Ramirez isn't here, I guess his grandmother died again," Bush joked.

Interestingly, Ramirez also missed the Sox' White House ceremony in 2005 in what Terry Francona called an "excused absence". A straight-faced Johnny Damon said at the 2005 ceremony that he heard Ramirez's grandmother was sick and Ramirez was with her in Miami.

This afternoon, Bush also joked about Jonathan Papelbon's famous Riverdance playoff celebration, in which he danced on the field wearing only his underwear.

"And how about Jonathan Papelbon," Bush said. "Guy pitches as well as he dances. And I appreciate the dress code. Thanks for wearing pants."

On a more serious note, the president referred to Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester's successful battle against cancer as an inspiration to many people. Lester began the 2007 season on a rehab minor league assignment, but recovered and won Game 4 of the World Series against the Colorado Rockies.

Bush also praised the Sox' championship core.

"This was a club that was wise enough to maintain a core of players that knew how to win," he said. "Varitek, Mirabelli, Ortiz, Ramirez, Schilling, Youkilis, Timlin, and Wakefield were all members of the 2004 championship team. And they provided the nucleus to bring some new players and some young players along. I betcha Dustin Pedroia, the American League Rookie of the Year, will tell you it makes a big difference. It makes a big difference to be hanging out with people who know how to win.

"And so the ownership gets a lot of credit, front office gets credit, and so does a really fine manager in Terry Francona."

After the ceremony, the Sox were headed to Walter Reed Army Medical Center to visit wounded veterans.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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