Monday, January 15, 2007

Mike Lowell on Manny

Although the Red Sox have yet to come to contract terms with outfielder J.D. Drew, who is slated to play right field this season, Mike Lowell was asked if he was surprised the Sox have not traded Manny Ramírez.
"Not really," said the third baseman, who was in town last night to receive an award at the annual Boston Baseball Writers dinner, "because if you're going to trade him, you've got to get something for him. Those numbers he puts up are too ridiculous.
"Manny in itself, we blow it out to be this saga. He's actually a guy who's very friendly with us and kind of stays to himself. It's not like he's a nuisance in the clubhouse, by any means.
"But we want him to play all year and be behind David [Ortiz] all year. I think when he's not in the lineup, it not only affected him but it affects David. David walked a ton when Manny wasn't in there. Manny, to me honestly, he's the best hitter I've ever seen."
Ramírez played in only 10 of the team's last 38 games last season, batting just .160 (4 for 25). The four hits represent half the total he had in an August weekend series against the Yankees in which he went 8 for 11 before coming out of the finale with what was called patellar tendinitis in his right knee.
Ortiz, who in that same span was sidelined more than a week with a heart scare, averaged more than a walk per game (32 in 29 games) after Ramírez went down. Before then, Ortiz had walked 87 times in 122 games.
Ramírez was named an All-Star for the 10th time last season and finished first in the American League in on-base percentage (.439) and fourth in slugging (.619). Neither Ramírez nor his agents have publicly weighed in on how he feels about coming back in 2007. And what if he is not inclined to play for the Sox ?
"I'm glad it's not my call," Lowell said. "I know it's been compared to other years, and I don't know how it was other years, but this past year if he says he's hurt, I've got to believe him, you know what I mean?
"That's a fine line, when you're questioning whether someone is hurt or not. If he says he's hurt, you've got to take his word for it. If you see him doing squats or running on the treadmill, that's another story."
That's precisely what confounded club officials and teammates last season, seeing Ramírez work out on the treadmill with no evident discomfort.
"I heard that but I never saw that," Lowell said. "If I did, I think I'd say something because I think that's something not too many players would take."
Asked if he thought the veterans might speak with Ramírez about any issues this spring, and about how much he's needed, Lowell said: "He knows how much he's needed. I think he likes to feel needed. You can't treat every player the same way. There are a lot of different personalities and his personality is very different.
"I think it is the responsibility of players if you think something is wrong to say it. I'd like to believe if I'm hurt and feel I can't play, no one is going to question whether I can play.
"I saw him in the trainer's room after every game, getting treatment, and waking up at the hotel getting massages in the morning. That's not the process of preparation for a guy who feels totally good and just doesn't want to play. So take it for what it's worth."

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