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Ailing Ramirez still starts

BALTIMORE -- There's something not quite right with Manny Ramirez's left quad. But the slugging left fielder hasn't talked to reporters in five days, and wouldn't before last night's game, saying, "I don't got time," so it's tough to say what's bothering him and how badly.

The good news: He started the game in left and assumed his third spot in the batting order, despite exiting Tuesday's game against the Blue Jays in the eighth inning to ice his leg.

"We're trying to manage it," said manager Terry Francona. "I know it's been bothering him a little bit for a couple days. Last year it was his hamstring. Will we sit him out? Probably not.

"We'd like to have his bat. [Tuesday] night before the game he told me he was tight. I kind of said to him, `Look, don't overdo it. If you don't run I'll tell everybody [why].' "

Ramirez homered (onto the parking garage across Lansdowne Street), grounded into a double play, and walked Tuesday before being lifted.

"I thought on the double play he was starting to show it a little bit," Francona said. "Again, I would love for his bat to be in the lineup in the ninth inning. We're trying to make decisions that work."

Francona said he doesn't know how Ramirez hurt himself.

Take a seat
Talk continued to center around Ramirez's home run Tuesday, which cleared the left-field light tower, a mammoth blast none of Ramirez's teammates who were questioned (Jason Varitek, Kevin Millar, and Johnny Damon) had witnessed before. However, the Sox don't measure home runs, so this one must be filed under: We'll never know. It was a point not lost on David Ortiz.

"They don't measure [anything] at Fenway," Ortiz said. "As long as you don't hit that [ball] past Ted Williams, you're cool."

Ortiz was also asked if he thinks he might someday hit a ball as far as Williams did June 9, 1946, when he clubbed the longest homer on record by a Boston player at Fenway, the 502-foot blast that touched down in the straw hat of 56-year-old Joseph A. Boucher.

"Let me tell you," Ortiz said. "Every year I come and that [expletive] is farther back. I hit some balls down the right-field line that they disappear, and when you look at the seat it's not even close."

Spit shine
It was some gamesmanship between two former Yankees, and once it was over, David Wells made sure he laughed last.

Baltimore manager Lee Mazzilli came out of the dugout during Melvin Mora's sixth-inning at-bat to talk with the umpires. Plate umpire Gary Cederstrom and second base umpire Tim Welke then visited Wells on the mound.

The Sox were ahead, 4-0, at the time, the Orioles had two men on, and Wells had been cruising. He'd also been spitting on his hands and rubbing the ball, a tendency Wells uses to make the ball tackier and something he knew Mazzilli remembered from their days when Wells pitched for the Yankees and Mazzilli was a coach.

"I've been doing that for 18 years," Wells said. "I know Maz had to say something. The ball is slick. I spit on my hands and rub the ball. I'm not juicing it.

"I wiped my hands off. The ball was clean. They can check it every time. Maz made a point of just trying to break my rhythm."

It didn't work. An amped Wells fanned Mora with a fastball away.

Taxing situation
The New York Yankees will be hit with a record luxury tax this season. Initial projections by the commissioner's office based on Opening Day rosters have the Yankees owing $30,637,531, according to information obtained by the Associated Press. The only other team projected to owe a tax: the Red Sox, who would pay $969,177. Last year, the Yankees paid a tax of $25,964,060 based on a final payroll of $207,046,868. Figures were adjusted slightly after the initial bill was sent in December, with New York's tax rising by $937,708. The Red Sox paid $3,148,962, a decrease of $6,272 from the December bill . . . Wade Miller will pitch Saturday at 1 p.m. in Portland for the Double A Sea Dogs in his third rehabilitation start. Miller, who was on a 75-pitch limit in his two previous appearances, said he will aim for 90 this time. He expects to then pitch for the Pawtucket Red Sox, completing his journey through the team's minor league system. Barring any setbacks, Miller could be on the mound May 3 at Detroit or May 8 vs. Seattle. Miller, who is coming off a season shortened by a frayed rotator cuff, said all that's left is "pitch count, getting my endurance up." . . . Edgar Renteria recorded 10 outs last night: seven 6-3 putouts, one 6-4 putout, one lineout, and one flyout . . . Varitek's three-run homer in the sixth was his 101st with the Sox, tying him for 25th on the club's all-time list with Dick Gernert . . . Last night also marked Varitek's 800th game as a catcher. He's the fourth Red Sox to catch 800 games, joining Carlton Fisk (990), Sammy White (967), and Rich Gedman (857) . . . A public memorial service will be held in memory of former Sox reliever Dick Radatz April 30 at 11 a.m. at Our Lady Help of Christians Church in Newton. Radatz, who would have turned 68 April 2, died of severe head trauma after falling down a flight of stairs in his Easton home March 16 . . . Bill Mueller, who had played in all 13 games this season until sitting out Tuesday with a fever and body aches, returned to the lineup. "If he wants to play, we'll let him run around and hopefully he doesn't have any adverse effects or repercussions," Francona said. "He looks a lot better today. He broke a sweat during the game [Tuesday]." . . . Condolences to the family of Dick Bresciani, the Sox' vice president/publications and archives, whose mother, Mary, passed away.


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