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Ramírez may have gotten friendly advice

Perhaps it was no coincidence that Manny Ramírez, following his tape-measure home runs last night, bolted out of the box, more concerned with running the bases than relishing in his exploits.

Alex Rodriguez, during Red Sox batting practice yesterday, walked over to Ramírez, who the previous night lingered for an exceptionally long time in the batter's box after unloading on a Scott Proctor fastball for a three-run homer. One group of nearby witnesses said the exchange looked tense, and it's possible that A-Rod was relaying some advice to Ramírez.

``Manny's one of my best friends," Rodriguez said. ``Don't read into that."

Even if Rodriguez approached Ramírez as a friend, it's quite possible that he was delivering a message. Rodriguez also talked with Doug Mirabelli, who criticized the Yankee third baseman Tuesday night for the way he reacted to hitting his own home run.

Rodriguez, a half-inning before Ramírez homered, hit a lengthy home run to left-center off Tim Wakefield. Rodriguez, though, acted as if he'd popped up the ball in the infield, immediately scanning the sky overhead for a few seconds before finally picking up the ball's path.

Mirabelli, after Tuesday's game, said, ``He squared that ball up. I don't believe he didn't know where that ball was. He's hit too many home runs to think that ball wasn't hammered."

Privately, Rodriguez was upset about Mirabelli's comment. But, asked about their conversation, said, ``I'm not going to talk about that."

Johnny Damon, after Tuesday's game, was asked about Ramírez gazing at his homer without moving his feet and said, ``I guess we're a little upset."

Sox manager Terry Francona, when asked about the Ramírez incident before last night's game, pleaded innocent, saying, ``Did [the Yankees] make a big deal out of it?"

He then added, ``Alex didn't see his, so are we mad at him?"

Francona's overall stance: ``I don't care if they watch it. I don't care if we watch it. I just want to hit more than them. I don't care how long it takes them to get around the bases. I just hope we get a lot more than them."

Still, it was interesting last night to watch Ramírez (3 for 4, 3 RBIs) demolish a Randy Johnson fastball in the first inning, cranking one well over the Sports Authority sign atop the Monster seats. This time, he quietly set down his bat to the right side of the batter's box and quickly exited the box. He did so again in the seventh inning, when he ripped a solo shot to left off Proctor for his fourth homer in three days against the Yankees.

``Again," Francona had said before the game, ``the perception of Manny may never be accurate because of what access he allows you guys. But what I see I'm real pleased with."

Ramirez went 2 for 2 with a two-run homer, double, walk, two RBIs, and two runs against Johnson. Entering the game, he was 2 for 20 with no homers and 3 RBIs vs. lefties at home. He's hitting .488 (21 for 43) with four homers and 12 RBIs vs. righthanders at Fenway.

Off to Florida
Coco Crisp left last night for Fort Myers, Fla., where he will play today and tomorrow in extended spring training games. Crisp expects to get 12-15 at-bats as a designated hitter today and outfielder tomorrow. He'll then report to Pawtucket Saturday to play one or two games before returning to the Red Sox' lineup Monday in Toronto, having missed 42 games over seven weeks.

Crisp said he'll wear a white plastic brace on his left hand while running the bases and a black elastic sheath on his index and middle fingers while batting.

``I don't feel any discomfort swinging a bat," he said.

Francona said Crisp will be restored to his leadoff spot, with Mark Loretta remaining in the two-hole and Kevin Youkilis dropping in the order, despite the fact that he went into last night 13th in the majors in on-base percentage (.423). ``I think Coco's got a lot of value in the leadoff spot, and believe me we value on-base percentage and Youk gives us that and he's done a great job with that," Francona said. ``What Coco brings with his speed is very important. I think it makes Loretta better, I think it makes pitchers throw some pitches they don't want to, out of the slidestep, things like that. Just, again, when we got Coco there was

For a gallery of photos from last night's Yankees game and news updates heading into tonight's Red Sox contest against Tampa Bay, go to www.boston.com/redsox

no doubt he was going to lead off.

``I just think what has happened over the last six weeks is we have attained another proven hitter, a guy we think we can count on, in Youk, which is really good."

Downshifting?
Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon, whose team comes to Fenway for four games beginning tonight, last night told Tampa Bay writers that the team might change or abandon the dramatic shift it has employed against David Ortiz this season.

``I'm still debating it," Maddon said. ``In that ballpark it's much more difficult in my mind for it to be effective because of the short wall. I'm not saying that's going to prevent us from doing it, but that wall does injure the strategy a bit because he could just lob it off the wall at any time.

``We'll probably do it. We're sort of ambivalent right now. We're doing further research, checking out more sources. Once we get all the information we'll make the determination whether or not we shall go with the 3-4 defense."

Maddon calls it that because he went with three infielders and four outfielders. He moved the third baseman to left field and shifted the other outfielders to the right. He moved the shortstop to the second base position and moved the second baseman and first baseman to shallow right.

No reason to leave
J.T. Snow, whose agent did some shopping around to see if there were teams interested in dealing for the first baseman and his $2 million price tag, said he's content to stay with the Sox.

``It's kind of a dead issue," Snow said. ``I'd like it to just kind of go away, be dead, it's not that big of a deal. I didn't demand a trade. The day [in Baltimore May 17] a reporter said to me, `The only way it looks like you'd play more is if you got traded.' And then I said, `Yeah. Call my agent.' [My agent] said he had thrown my name out there.

``That was basically it. It's pretty much a dead deal. I'm happy staying here doing what I'm doing for the chance to win. The biggest thing is I'm willing to learn to do this."

Snow, before last night, had just 24 at-bats and six hits this season. He's on pace for just 90 at-bats. He averaged 348 the last three seasons in San Francisco. The Giants, according to yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle, may be interested in reacquiring Snow if Lance Niekro's shoulder bursitis becomes a long-term issue.

DiNardo on DL
Lenny DiNardo, who was likely to be optioned to Pawtucket tomorrow to make room for David Wells, went on the disabled list with neck spasms that began Friday. The club called up reliever Jermaine Van Buren before the game to take DiNardo's place, though Van Buren is likely to be on his way back to Pawtucket tomorrow . . . Damon, who started in center field Tuesday and was the Yankees' designated hitter Monday, sat last night, though he didn't want to, since the Yankees are off today and play at home tomorrow against Kansas City. ``I told [manager Joe Torre], `Why don't we wait until Thursday and Friday?' " Damon said. ``And he said, `If we don't make it until Thursday, we have a problem.' He knows best, so I'll abide by that and be ready if he needs me." Damon's issue is a broken bone beneath the big toe on his right foot . . . Wily Mo Peña, who sat out two games with a sore left wrist, returned to the lineup, batting seventh and playing center field. He went 1 for 4 with a single . . . Ramírez, with his two home runs last night, moved into a tie with Rico Petrocelli for eighth on the club's all-time list with 210. His 45th multihomer game is 15th on baseball's all-time list, one behind Mickey Mantle and Harmon Killebrew . . . Dustan Mohr started in right field, his first start since April 30. He struck out twice in two at-bats and has 20 K's in 40 at-bats . . . Torre's 1,902d win moved him into sole possession of 11th place all-time. Up next: Casey Stengel with 1,926 . . . The bottom four batters in the Yankees' lineup -- Robinson Cano, Bernie Williams, Terrence Long, and Kelly Stinnett -- went 6 for 16 with 3 RBIs and 7 runs . . . Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Sox president Larry Lucchino were among the nearly 200 in attendance at the Players Club at Fenway yesterday morning for the advanced screening of a 20-minute educational DVD, ``Steroids: True Stories", narrated by Curt Schilling. Schilling, who filmed his introduction and voiceover during spring training, was not at the screening but committed to the cause. ``Things have to be done," he said. ``It's a baby step, but it's something they thought was a good idea to get out there."

Gordon Edes and Amalie Benjamin of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

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