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Ramirez rewards Red Sox with win



Published: Mon, August 1, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The former Indians slugger singled home the winning run against the Twins.

BOSTON (AP) -- 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."

Standing pat

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.

Fenway boos

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."

A former batting and home run champion, Ramirez leads the majors with 93 RBIs. But he's also one of the leading headaches in a Boston clubhouse that credits its chemistry for ending an 86-year title drought.

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.

"You can't have a perfect ballclub. You can't have a ballclub and not have raised voices. It's supposed to be like that," Francona said. "That's pretty much the way it's been every year. Have a couple fiascos and he drives in 140 -- I hope it continues."

Three more years

Ramirez signed an $160 million, eight-year contract during the baseball-wide spending spree after the 2000 season. And even though he has produced, the contract has become a burden for a team trying to remain in contention and under budget.

Under Epstein, the Red Sox have repeatedly tried to trade Ramirez, famously dangling him in an aborted deal for Alex Rodriguez after the '03 season. And Ramirez has annually made it clear that he didn't like Boston, either.

He has complained that he hasn't been comfortable since leaving the spacious and relatively low-pressure Cleveland clubhouse. He has asked to be traded annually, but few teams are able to take on the $63,885,246 remaining on his contract for the next three years.




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