To the surprise of absolutely no one, Manny Ramirez's spot at the American League interview session was occupied by an empty chair. That is not a first, of course. The good news, for Manny fans, is that he has elected to play in the A-S Game this season, and Sox publicist John Blake said Manny is indeed in town. There have been three occasions where he hasn't shown up to play.
Dustin Pedroia took some ribbing from his teammates....Jonathan Papelbon predicted the normally feisty second baseman would be like "a church mice (sic)" in the All-Star setting, and David Ortiz, who isn't playing but was his usual engaging presence anyway, described Pedroia as "this guy who's five feet tall who acts like he is 6 feet 4.''
Pedroia shot back that Papelbon had gotten food poisoning the night before -- "He doesn't know how to eat"-- and said he expects to be his normal self. He said he can handle batting in the No. 9 hole, deferring to Derek Jeter, but you know that privately, he probably gave Terry Francona an earful about it. All in good fun, of course.
J.D. Drew said he was looking forward to meeting Josh Hamilton, the Texas outfielder who turned his life around in extraordinary fashion, from hopelessly addicted druggie to All-Star. A testament, Drew said, to the power of faith.
The Jewish faith was in play.....There are three Jewish players in the game: Kevin Youkilis, Ian Kinsler of the Rangers and Ryan Braun of the Brewers. Kinsler said that Youkilis will say stuff to him during games. Like "Happy Passover,'' he said.
Jason Varitek, whose right eye was nearly swollen shut after Sunday's game, told Amalie Benjamin that it was feeling a lot better. It certainly looks a lot better, Amalie says.
And that special train trip the Sox All-Stars made to get here turned out to be anything less than special, according to Papelbon. "The engine broke down like four or five times,'' he said.