Results tagged ‘ Manny Ramirez ’

Scared straight

First of all, I feel bad for Manny Ramirez. We go way back to when we were young players, Manny in Cleveland and me in Minnesota. He was two years older, one of the young superstar guys. We always got along, had a good relationship. There was mutual respect.

He’s one of those guys I’ve always respected, because I know how much work he’s put into the game. He’s one of the hardest workers in baseball, which is why this is so hard for me to understand. He’s never been a guy to take the easy way.

People look at how he is on the field, carefree, having fun, a character, and they think, Manny, no way he works hard. What they don’t realize is he’s always been one of the hardest workers, hitting the weights before and after games, working out like crazy in the off-season. I remember when he was with the Red Sox and I was with the Twins, watching him in Spring Training in Fort Myers, Florida. He worked his butt off and studied the game. He’s not just amazingly talented — he’s smart. Players know that.

I hate that this happened to him. I can only imagine how much it’s hurting him right now. He cares about the game, cares about his legacy. He’s always been a great player, and now there’s this shadow, like with Alex Rodriguez.

At the same time, it lets everybody know that the drug policy is serious. That’s how strong it is. This is Manny Ramirez, one of the greats of the game. There’s no covering up. Whatever it was, it was a banned substance, and it tells every player in the game that if you’re doing something, you better be sure to clear it with your medical staff. Even if it’s vitamin C, fish oil, whatever. If it’s something new to your system, take it to them and have them clear it.

You’ve heard about being scared straight. Well, that’s what we have here. Every player in the game, whoever you are, you’ve got to be careful about what you’re putting in your body. That’s a good thing. Awareness is always a good thing.

I understand how a lot of people are going to react to this. If you’ve got big-time guys like A-Rod, Manny Ramirez, Roger Clemens . . . what are other guys trying to do? They probably think we’re cheating. There are more guys doing it the right way, respecting the game, than not. Some guys cheat — just like in the real world — but most of the guys in the game are playing clean. It’s like the business world. You’ve got cheaters, doing anything they can to make money and climb the ladder, and you’ve got good people trying to do it the right way and be fair and responsible.

This is the real world here. Baseball is the real world, with real people. You’re going to always have somebody trying to beat the system. People forget we’re human. We’re bound to make mistakes. But I want people, all of you, to understand that by far there are more guys doing it right than cheating. That’s the truth.    

Assessing the Matthews situation

I know a lot of people are criticizing Gary Matthews Jr. for taking the stand he’s taking, wanting to play every day. People wonder how a guy making the kind of money he’s making can act like he’s not happy. I hear that all the time. You’re making all that money, how can you complain? What’s your problem? Well, that’s not fair at all, if you understand the mindset of an athlete. We’re competitors by nature, and we all want to be part of something special.

I understand perfectly how Gary feels. Gary’s an athlete. He grew up loving the game and playing for nothing. That’s what got him where he is, that passion he has for the game. The fact he’s now making a lot of money doesn’t change that. He feels he can play at a high level — and I agree with him.

We play the same position, and I know what it takes to get it done. Gary’s a terrific center fielder, and he can also play left and right. But we’ve got a lot of talent everywhere in this clubhouse, and even though that’s great for the organization, it’s not so great for some of the players.

You can’t expect a guy who loves the game to sit on the bench and be happy about it. I’ve always felt older guys who are near the end of their careers make the best bench guys, because they know what they can do and how to respond to situations. Younger guys just want to get out and play. Gary’s not a kid — he’s 34. But he’s not an old guy, either. He’s healthy again, and he wants to get out and show the world what he can do. How can you blame him for that?

Bobby Abreu is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. Because of the economy in baseball now, he had to take an $11 million cut this year, down to $5 million, to come play for us. He did it because he loves the game and wants to play baseball. He’s here every day, cracking us up with jokes, laughing, having a great time. I knew he was a great player, but seeing him every day now, i can see he’s a great teammate, too. He’s going to be good for this club in the clubhouse as well as on the field. Bobby’s a real pro. 

I know what it’s like to be frustrated with your situation. I was the same way back with Minnesota. I’d be hitting like .450 in the spring, but they had Otis Nixon in center field in ’97 and ’98, and I couldn’t make the team, no matter what I did. It kind of messes with your mind when you’re young.

That’s why I’m always talking to Brandon Wood, Matt Brown, Sean Rodriguez, all these young dudes who can play but have established veterans in front of them. I tell them to be patient, that their time will come. I know how frustrating it is, but you have to keep working, keep improving — and be ready when your opportunity arrives. I tell them it’s the same game up here. That doesn’t change. What changes is the hype, the fans. It’s the spotlight, and how you handle it.

The talent level on this club is really amazing. Man, I look around and shake my head. We’ve got athletes all over the place. That’s why I feel for Gary. This guy is a premier athlete. I know it’s tough on him emotionally. It doesn’t matter if you’re making $500 million — you want to play. That’s true of 99 percent of the guys in the Major Leagues. Manny Ramirez is playing because he loves the game, loves to hit. I know Manny, and he lives for the game, the competition.

Gary is no different. He just wants to play. That doesn’t make him a bad guy, by any means. It makes him an athlete.

On to Boston — and stayin alive

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What can you say after a game like that? It was intense, start to finish. We went at it toe to toe with the Red Sox and came back strong after they dropped the hammer on us early with that Jason Bay three-run bomb in the first. I think our guys showed a lot of heart, and we’re going to need everything we’ve got in Boston to get back in this series.

So much happened in this second game, I don’t even know where to start. Bottom line, the big bombs killed us — Bay first, and then J.D. Drew. Bay, I guess he’s the new Manny. He’s swinging the bat like Manny Ramirez in this series. Frankie Rodriguez had 62 saves for us this year, and I’ll take my chances with him out there any time. But Drew hits a two-run bomb off K-Rod, and what can you do? Baseball’s a crazy game.

Hey, as long as we have a breath, we’ve got a shot. They haven’t won anything yet. It takes three games to win this thing, and they’re going to have to earn it. I think we showed tonight the kind of character we have. We’re going to keep fighting, I can tell you that much.

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You probably want to know about my knee, the left one. We’ll be treating it, and even though it’s sore now, I’ll be out there. I’m old school. This is October, and this is what you live for as a baseball player.

It was all adrenaline when I reacted the way I did on that call at first base in the third inning. We were making a comeback, we had two guys on, and I thought I beat the throw from the shortstop, Alex Cora. The call went against me, and I got excited and jumped up and came down on the knee wrong. I was being intense, going all out — and in the heat of the moment, sometimes you get upset like that. I’m not going to apologize or call it a stupid thing to do. Man, when you’re out there competing, you’re throwing everything you’ve got into it. That’s all I was doing.

We were taking care of business, being patient with Daisuke Matsuzaka, getting guys on base, stirring things up. I got an RBI single in the first inning after Mark Teixeira and Vladimir Guerrero singled, and I was trying to do that again in the third when I got thrown out on that call. In the fifth inning, I hit a bullet to left field for another RBI after Tex and Vladdy walked.

Those two guys were great tonight, getting on base all night long, trying to get us started. It’s a pleasure to play with guys like that who really know how to play the game right. This team is loaded with talent, and it’d be a crying shame for it to end too soon.

In my last at-bat in the ninth against Papelbon, I was trying to get on base to get it started. That’s why I dropped the bunt. It didn’t work out, but in that situation, down two runs, we needed a baserunner. Papelbon’s good. You’ve got to give credit where it’s due.

Some of our guys are trying a little too hard, trying to do too much. They need to relax when we get to Boston. I’ll have a talk with Howie Kendrick, like always. He’s a great kid, with a tremendous future in this game. He had a rough night, but he’ll bounce back. He’s strong. I know how that is — when you’re young, you want it so bad, controlling all that adrenaline isn’t easy.

Right now, I’m exhausted. This was intense baseball, all night long. But we’ll be ready to roll on Sunday night. We’ve played some great baseball in Fenway Park this year, and I don’t see why we can’t do it again. We’ve still got a heartbeat. We’re still a dangerous team.

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On to Boston — and stayin’ alive

toriiswing550x250.jpg

What can you say after a game like that? It was intense, start to finish. We went at it toe to toe with the Red Sox and came back strong after they dropped the hammer on us early with that Jason Bay three-run bomb in the first. I think our guys showed a lot of heart, and we’re going to need everything we’ve got in Boston to get back in this series.

So much happened in this second game, I don’t even know where to start. Bottom line, the big bombs killed us — Bay first, and then J.D. Drew. Bay, I guess he’s the new Manny. He’s swinging the bat like Manny Ramirez in this series. Frankie Rodriguez had 62 saves for us this year, and I’ll take my chances with him out there any time. But Drew hits a two-run bomb off K-Rod, and what can you do? Baseball’s a crazy game.

Hey, as long as we have a breath, we’ve got a shot. They haven’t won anything yet. It takes three games to win this thing, and they’re going to have to earn it. I think we showed tonight the kind of character we have. We’re going to keep fighting, I can tell you that much.

toriihopping275x375.jpg

You probably want to know about my knee, the left one. We’ll be treating it, and even though it’s sore now, I’ll be out there. I’m old school. This is October, and this is what you live for as a baseball player.

It was all adrenaline when I reacted the way I did on that call at first base in the third inning. We were making a comeback, we had two guys on, and I thought I beat the throw from the shortstop, Alex Cora. The call went against me, and I got excited and jumped up and came down on the knee wrong. I was being intense, going all out — and in the heat of the moment, sometimes you get upset like that. I’m not going to apologize or call it a stupid thing to do. Man, when you’re out there competing, you’re throwing everything you’ve got into it. That’s all I was doing.

We were taking care of business, being patient with Daisuke Matsuzaka, getting guys on base, stirring things up. I got an RBI single in the first inning after Mark Teixeira and Vladimir Guerrero singled, and I was trying to do that again in the third when I got thrown out on that call. In the fifth inning, I hit a bullet to left field for another RBI after Tex and Vladdy walked.

Those two guys were great tonight, getting on base all night long, trying to get us started. It’s a pleasure to play with guys like that who really know how to play the game right. This team is loaded with talent, and it’d be a crying shame for it to end too soon.

In my last at-bat in the ninth against Papelbon, I was trying to get on base to get it started. That’s why I dropped the bunt. It didn’t work out, but in that situation, down two runs, we needed a baserunner. Papelbon’s good. You’ve got to give credit where it’s due.

Some of our guys are trying a little too hard, trying to do too much. They need to relax when we get to Boston. I’ll have a talk with Howie Kendrick, like always. He’s a great kid, with a tremendous future in this game. He had a rough night, but he’ll bounce back. He’s strong. I know how that is — when you’re young, you want it so bad, controlling all that adrenaline isn’t easy.

Right now, I’m exhausted. This was intense baseball, all night long. But we’ll be ready to roll on Sunday night. We’ve played some great baseball in Fenway Park this year, and I don’t see why we can’t do it again. We’ve still got a heartbeat. We’re still a dangerous team.

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