BOSTON - Less than an hour after baseball’s trading deadline, Manny Ramirez showed why the Boston Red Sox couldn’t bear to part with him.
Coming off the bench and out of a two-game exile, the only World Series MVP the franchise has ever known singled in the game-winning run to beat the Minnesota Twins 4-3 on Sunday and thrill the crowd that wondered whether it had seen the last of him.
“Forget about the trade. This is the place I want to be,” Ramirez said. “They want to win. I want to win, too. I’m back.”
One year after shipping Nomar Garciaparra out of town in a deal that sparked Boston to its first World Series title in 86 years, general manager Theo Epstein stood pat in a seller’s market he likened to a $100 gallon of milk. That left Ramirez in a Red Sox uniform instead of a part chip in a three-team trade with the New York Mets and Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
“Things are good with Manny right now. I think you have to take him at his words,” the GM said. “He’s really happy to be here. This is where he wants to be. ... As we demonstrated through our actions in the end, we want Manny, too.”
Thus ended one of the most bizarre weeks in the history of an always tumultuous team.
On Wednesday, Ramirez declined to give up a scheduled day off when the team was short-handed. Although both sides now generously chalk that up to a misunderstanding, the Fenway fans let Ramirez hear it with a chorus of boos on Friday night.
On Saturday, with trade rumors swirling, manager Terry Francona took Ramirez out of the lineup and offered him two days to clear his head. But on Sunday morning, Ramirez interrupted the manager’s press gaggle and made a plea to stay.
“I’m just here to play and win. I’m a gangster,” Ramirez said about four hours before the 4 p.m. deadline. “I’m still here. I’m here to win. I’m here to help this team win for 2005.”
In a staged but occasionally spontaneous scene, clubhouse clown Kevin Millar mock-translated Ramirez’s easily understood English into gibberish. The slugger said he had no problem with Francona, his teammates or the fans.
Francona said he thought the time off was working.
“You see him. He looks OK,” Francona said. “He looks like he’s handling things he wasn’t handling a couple days ago. I wasn’t sure about that yesterday; that’s why he didn’t play. I wasn’t sure he was in a position to help us.”
Though both Francona and Ramirez denied there are any problems between them, the manager also acknowledged that he doesn’t expect a 25-man roster to make it through a 162-game season without flare-ups.
NEW YORK (AP) - Yankees fans showed Don Mattingly the love from the moment he took the lineup card to home plate Wednesday. Hiroki Kuroda, though, wasn't feeling nostalgic when facing his old team.
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