ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Manny Ramírez, who received more fan votes than any player in the American League, will not participate in Tuesday's All-Star Game because of a sore right knee, Red Sox manager Terry Francona indicated yesterday. The decision has yet to be announced by Major League Baseball.
``Just not sure why it hasn't been [announced]," Francona said. ``I know there's been some red tape. It's getting bogged down a little bit."
MLB officials were not available yesterday, given the holiday. It could be that MLB is attempting to persuade Ramírez to play.
The 10-time All-Star has played in 77 of the Sox' 81 games but has a sore knee, according to Francona, who has cited Ramírez's knee as the reason for the occasional day off and for prematurely taking him out of some one-sided games in recent weeks.
Francona, as he often does, stepped up to take the bullet for Ramírez's expected withdrawal as far back as Sunday's All-Star Game roster announcement, saying, ``If somebody's going to take some heat I hope it's me. I asked him to not play . . . in the interests of our ball club."
Francona had to make that statement because Ramírez refuses to speak for himself. After the game, Ramírez twice silently declined to answer reporters' questions.
Without talking with him, it's difficult to gauge whether his knee really is bothering him, and whether that is the actual reason he's asking out of the All-Star Game.
In Atlanta two weeks ago, Ramírez asked for a day off. He arrived wearing a sizeable ice wrap on his knee, prompting teammate Trot Nixon to shout across the room, ``Manny, take that eyewash off your knee."
This stands to be the third time Ramírez will opt not to play in the All-Star Game. In 2003, with the Sox, he was scheduled to start but skipped it because of a sore left hamstring.
He did not attend the game, instead traveling to Miami to be with his mother, who was ill.
In 2000, with Cleveland, he was elected by the fans to start even though he hadn't played since May 29, also because of a sore left hamstring. He was criticized that season by Cleveland owner James Dolan, general manager John Hart, and teammate Omar Vizquel for remaining on the DL for so long. Ramírez, at the urging of his then-agent, Jeff Moorad, attended the game but did not play.
``I came for the fans to see me," Ramírez said upon showing up at the 2000 All-Star Game. ``If I didn't show up it would look bad."
Francona, who is left to answer for Ramírez, said, ``I understand he's the leading vote-getter. That's why I said I don't want Manny to catch hell. I tried to come out early enough so it isn't disrespectful."
Will the slugging left fielder still attend the game, even if he doesn't play?
``I don't know about that," Francona said. ``That's up to him. I don't know what the ramifications are. I just think the three days [off] would be huge for him."
Clement, who was scheduled to throw 45-50 pitches, got in just 17 in his one inning of work under the watchful eyes of general manager GM Theo Epstein and assistant trainer Mike Reinold.
``Kind of mixed reviews on the one inning," Francona said. ``He was 86-87-88 [miles per hour]."
Francona had penciled Clement in to make three rehab starts and rejoin the rotation, if able, July 19 vs. Kansas City.
``I don't know if that's realistic now," Francona said.
``Get him back here and on the strength program and see where we're at," Francona said. ``I don't think he was alarmed. I still think he felt he made process. I just think what it did is it maybe slowed down the progression. He'll be looked at [today] and we'll know a lot more about what the progression is."
Clement has now been struck by a comebacker on at least four occasions with the Sox. Carl Crawford, in the scariest of the incidents, hit Clement in the head here July 26 last summer. Carl Everett smoked Clement in the thigh and left wrist in Game 1 of last season's American League Division Series. Bernie Williams hit Clement in the ankle May 25. Then came yesterday.
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