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Dan Shaughnessy

Retiring types, and not shy about it

By Dan Shaughnessy
Globe Columnist / March 23, 2010

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Close your eyes and imagine . . .

FORT MYERS, Fla. — It was shaping up as another quiet and boring day here in Camp Tranquility when the Red Sox public relations staff delivered word that there would be a surprise news conference at 10:30 a.m. in the press box at City of Palms Park.

Slumbering scribes assembled on short notice and were stunned at the sight of a smiling Roger Clemens, seated between Larry Lucchino and Theo Epstein. Clemens was wearing his Red Sox No. 21 home white jersey.

Lucchino spoke first.

“We are here to announce that we have signed Roger Clemens to a one-day minor league contract,’’ said the Sox CEO. Turning to Clemens, Lucchino added, “Welcome home, Roger.’’

“I always said I truly wanted that to be the last uniform I ever put on,’’ said Clemens. “Today I get to do that and that’s why it’s so important to me.’’

“Roger was really misunderstood at the end here,’’ said Lou Merloni, who batted against Clemens several times. Merloni, now a reporter for Comcast SportsNet, interviewed Clemens one-on-one after the news conference and asked about former Sox GM Dan Duquette.

“Turns out the Duke is the one who was in the twilight of his career,’’ said Clemens.

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The morning calm of Edison Avenue was shattered today when the Red Sox called an emergency news conference and reintroduced Manny Ramirez to the New England media. Ramirez was signed to a one-day minor league contract and issued his old No. 24 jersey.

“Manny was such a central figure in everything good that has happened to the Red Sox,’’ said club CEO Larry Lucchino. “It’s appropriate. This is a little bit of a fairy tale end. In life, there is some adversity and conflict, but in the end, people can come together and recognize what they meant to one another.’’

Seated between Lucchino and Sox GM Theo Epstein, Manny smiled and spoke fondly of his Boston days.

“When I was there, I always realized there was something bigger than us as players,’’ said Ramirez. “These people that had bled, cried, and cheered over the years. Winning a World Series in Boston is more than an individual player winning a World Series — it was winning a World Series for these people.’’

“He just got Bostoned out,’’ explained Manny’s former manager, Terry Francona.

Lou Merloni, now a reporter with Comcast SportsNet, secured a one-on-one interview with Ramirez after the news conference.

“It’s weird,’’ Ramirez told Merloni. “When I played here we had a guy on the team who looked a lot like you. He was a big friend of Nomar’s.’’

Epstein said Manny may have a future with the Sox as a spring training instructor.

FORT MYERS, Fla. — He Who Must Not Be Named is back.

The Red Sox shocked their Nation and brought spring training to a halt today with a surprise announcement that Grady Little has been signed to a one-day, minor league managing contract, allowing him to retire as a member of the Red Sox.

Wearing his home white uniform top No. 3, Grady sat at a table flanked by Sox GM Theo Epstein and CEO Larry Lucchino. It was Grady’s first appearance in a Sox uniform since the night he left Pedro Martinez on the mound in Yankee Stadium in the seventh game of the 2003 ALCS.

“I was getting choked up then and I’m getting choked up now,’’ said Grady. “I’ve got the chills. To be able to have that dream come true, I really can’t put into words, because of what this organization has always meant to me.’’

Lou Merloni, who played for Grady in 2002 and 2003, interviewed Little after the news conference. Merloni works as a commentator for Comcast SportsNet and Little has landed a gig as a baseball analyst for ESPN.

Lucchino said a ceremony honoring Grady would be held at Fenway this summer, but he was evasive when asked if Grady’s number would be retired and fitted for space on the right-field facade alongside 1-4-6-8-9-27-42.

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Never say never.

Boston baseball’s spring of forgiveness continued today with the stunning announcement that Carl Everett signed a one-day minor league contract and will be able to retire as a member of the Red Sox.

“I’ve always had a recurring dream, to be able to retire in a Red Sox uniform,’’ said Everett, wearing his old No. 2 jersey. “Today I get to fulfill that dream and retire as a Red Sox . . . I always tell people Red Sox Nation is bigger than any Nation out there. It’s good to be back.’’

Asked to explain Everett’s chaotic final days in Boston, and the deal that sent him out of town, Sox GM Theo Epstein shrugged and said, “Trades happen in baseball.’’

“When the history of the Red Sox is written again there will be a very large and important chapter devoted to Carl Everett,’’ said CEO Larry Lucchino.

“He was great offensively, great defensively, and most importantly to me, a great teammate,’’ said knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.

Lou Merloni, another of Everett’s former teammates, attempted to interview Jurassic Carl after the news conference, but Everett head-butted Merloni, then said, “Bye, bye, bye. Anybody from the Globe, get the [expletive] away from me. ’’

Merloni explained that he works for Comcast SportsNet and the interview went off without a hitch.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at dshaughnessy@globe.com.

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