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Ramirez's actions raise a red flag

Team looks into missed appointment

PHILADELPHIA -- In an unwelcome diversion in the heat of a pennant race, the Red Sox yesterday were investigating why Manny Ramirez socialized with a member of the Yankees Saturday night but did not report for a doctor's appointment at Fenway Park the next morning. The review unfolded while some of Ramirez's teammates and bosses privately harbored -- or publicly expressed -- varying degrees of concern about his commitment to the team.

The $160 million slugger, who missed the entire three-game series with the Yankees because of acute pharyngitis (throat inflammation), rejoined the team as it began a four-city, nine-game road trip struggling to regain the wild-card lead and the ground lost over the weekend in the American League East. But, again, Ramirez did not play. And he declined to publicly address the latest controversy surrounding him as details emerged about his activities Saturday night and Sunday.

In Toronto, Yankees infielder Enrique Wilson, who played with Ramirez for the Indians from 1997 to 2000, told New York reporters he socialized with Ramirez Saturday night after the Yankees pounded Pedro Martinez and the Sox, 10-7, in the afternoon. A Sox official who asked not to be identified said Wilson, who went 3 for 4 to help lead the rout, visited the Sox superstar at the Ritz-Carlton/Boston Common, on Avery Street, where Ramirez lives during the season.

"He told me that he was sick," Wilson said. "He didn't want to play [Saturday] because he didn't feel so good."

The Sox official said Ramirez accompanied Wilson back to his hotel, the Ritz-Carlton/Boston on Arlington Street. But the Sox had yet to confirm reports from several news outlets that Ramirez spent time in a Ritz-Carlton bar. Wilson also said he did not see Ramirez in a bar.

"He came to my room, we went to the lobby, and he left," Wilson said. "He didn't go to the bar. After he left, I don't know if he went home."

The Sox do know that Ramirez, who showed no signs of acute illness when he arrived jauntily for an appointment Saturday with team physician Bill Morgan, did not report to Morgan Sunday at 11 a.m., as scheduled.

While manager Grady Little waited to write his lineup, hoping Ramirez would be well enough to play, team officials tried to reach their prized cleanup hitter, to no avail.

Asked to explain Ramirez's absence, Wilson said, "Sometimes he does crazy things."

While the Sox continued their attempts to reach Ramirez, the slugger phoned Ino Guerrero, his close friend and staff member, near the end of batting practice and said he did not plan to report to the park. As a result, Little indicated, he needed to wait until "right before the game" to write his lineup.

Asked about Ramirez's socializing Saturday night, Little said, "I don't know anything about that. I know he lives at the Ritz. I don't know anything about it. I'm going to find out."

Little later said he talked to Ramirez about it but declined to discuss the conversation.

Soon after Ramirez phoned Guerrero, the Sox dispatched Morgan to examine him. Morgan did not respond to a request through the Sox to provide details of his findings Sunday, but Little said the doctor concluded it "would probably be Tuesday before he would be at full strength to play."

Still, a number of observers were surprised to see Ramirez sit out yesterday after he appeared particularly buoyant when he boarded the bus at Fenway Park to depart for Philadelphia and in the visitors clubhouse at Veterans Stadium before the game. Ramirez chatted amiably before the game with Guerrero, David Ortiz, and his former Cleveland teammate, David Justice, among others.

A high-ranking team official expressed "serious concern" about the circumstances surrounding Ramirez's failure to report for the doctor's appointment Sunday and inability to play yesterday, while there appeared to be no rush by his teammates to rally around him. The Sox are fighting for their first playoff berth in four years and players expect their teammates to do their best to contribute, even if it means providing moral support on the bench.

Johnny Damon, for example, suffered multiple injuries, from his head to his legs, when Gabe Kapler slammed into him Saturday chasing a fly ball and knocked him against the Green Monster. Damon sat out Sunday's game, watching from the dugout, but returned to action yesterday.

Asked to comment about the team's apparent dissatisfaction with Ramirez, Damon said little but spoke volumes.

"I would much rather not give my thoughts on that," Damon said. "We know he's a big part of our team, so we want him around whether it's sitting on the bench or just holding a bat somewhere. That's all I'll comment on that."

Little indicated the medical staff may have had some reluctance about rushing back Ramirez after Martinez cited the aftereffects of his pharyngitis in part for getting wracked Saturday by the Yankees.

"That is a thought," Little said. "When Pedro was diagnosed, it was severe pharyngitis. Manny's is acute. What the difference is, I don't know, but I do know Pedro is not completely over it yet."

After the game, Little said the medical staff cleared Ramirez to play whenever Ramirez feels he's ready.

Team officials, some of whom privately seethed over Ramirez's absences, also could not have been pleased with his remarks during an interview with ESPN the previous weekend in which he said he dreamed of playing for the Yankees after his eight-year megadeal with the Sox ends in 2008.

If it's any consolation to Sox fans who wanted Ramirez in the lineup yesterday, he went 0 for 11 in two previous games against the Phillies, whose pitching coach is his former Boston manager, Joe Kerrigan. Ramirez also has not fared well this year against his former Cleveland manager, Mike Hargrove, the current Baltimore skipper. Ramirez is batting .186 (8 for 43) this year against the Orioles, who have seven games remaining against the Sox.

Little said he hoped Ramirez would be healthy enough to play tonight when the Sox open a two-game series in Chicago against the White Sox. Ramirez has hit .455 (5 for 11) with two doubles and a homer against White Sox starter Bartolo Colon.

The manager said no one else on the team has shown symptoms of the illness that struck Martinez and Ramirez.

Gordon Edes and Dan Shaughnessy of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

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