Old friend Manny Ramirez is looking right at home in Los Angeles after just two games with the Dodgers and it sounds like he's already ready to finish his career in LA.
We've got a full media roundup of Manny's comments this weekend on finding peace in LA, his difficulties playing in Boston, the Hall of Fame cap question, Dodger fans, and more along with Manny's agent Scott Boras refuting a Globe report that Ramirez lobbied to remain in Boston after learning he had been traded to the Dodgers.
"I like this city, the environment, the energy in the fans. I think that I'll play here for the remainder of my career," Ramirez said in an exclusive interview with ESPNdeportes.com.
"I just feel comfortable. Regardless of how hectic Friday was -- traveling from Boston with only a few hours of sleep, going to a press conference and later play a game -- I started to feel the peace of mind that I was searching for," Ramirez added. ...
"The Dodgers brought me here to end my career in this city -- at least that's what I'm thinking. However, we haven't even discussed the future. I'm simply starting to know this team," Ramirez said.
"I love it," Ramirez said after one game with the Dodgers. "I feel at home already. Put the word on me -- I want to stay here. The weather is nice, the stadium is beautiful." ...
"I've already made $160 million," he said. "I like it here. I'm looking for peace. I want to stay here. At the end of the season, if the Dodgers want me to end my career here, we'll sit down and talk. Time will tell." ...
"I want peace," Ramirez said. "After the game [Friday night], I went out to dinner and nobody bothers you. In Boston, you go from the stadium straight home. That's what I'm talking about. Some people recognized me, said congratulations, that's it. I could go to the movies with my family. I've got nothing against Boston, but this is what I'm looking for. The game is supposed to be fun." ...
As for his first game with the Dodgers, Ramirez disagreed that he didn't hustle on a ball to the left-center gap by Chris Burke that went for a triple.
"I can't take that. What do you think I am, [Juan] Pierre?" he said. "I'm not that fast. I'm 5.3 to first base, remember?"
NESN.com's Jaime Cardenas has more from Manny's interviews yesterday, his response a question about his Hall of Fame cap, and Nomar Garciaparra putting in his two cents on leaving Boston:
How bad was the relationship between the Boston Red Sox and Manny Ramirez?
Bad enough that the dreadlock-sporting outfielder isn’t sure if he wants to be inducted into Cooperstown wearing a Red Sox cap.
“At this moment, I’m just taking it day by day,” Ramirez said in Spanish, when asked if he would like to go into the Hall of Fame wearing a Red Sox cap. “I’m not thinking about [what cap to wear].” ...
There was also a reporter from a Spanish-language station who wanted to know if Ramirez would be interested in doing telenovelas, which are Spanish soap operas.
“Maybe,” Ramirez said. ...
“Whatever happened in Boston is in the past -- I’m thinking blue now,” said Ramirez, who was unable to finish his statement with a straight face (“Think Blue” is the name of a marketing campaign the Dodgers use to sell tickets).
Ramirez, much like McGwire back when he was in front of Congress, used the word “past” frequently.
“Thinking of Boston makes me put my brain on pause. I go ‘pop,’” he said. “I feel like I took 5,000 pounds off my back.”
Former Red Sox teammate Nomar Garciaparra, who’s now with the Dodgers, said the Red Sox seems to have a modus operandi of letting players go before they want to leave -- Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens, Johnny Damon, Garciaparra and Ramirez to name a few.
“We didn’t leave. They sent us out,” said Garciaparra, who was placed on the DL in order to make room for Ramirez on the roster. “It wasn’t our choice [to leave]. It was their choice.”
Cardenas has quotes from Manny, Joe Torre, Nomar and other Dodgers, including Manny's answer to why he ended up wearing No. 99:
“I don’t know why they gave me 99.”
The suggestion that his wearing No. 99 had any connection to former L.A. Kings legend Wayne Gretzky, who also wore the number:
“I don’t know anything about hockey. They don’t have hockey in the Dominican.”
As for his new number, 99, he explained that it simply was the number he was issued. There seemed to be some discrepancy about that, though. His former number, 24, is unavailable because the Dodgers retired it in honor of legendary manager Walter Alston.
Ramirez's second choice was No. 34 but, well, that was Fernando Valenzuela's number.
"It's not retired, but it's retired in our hearts," said Mitch Poole, Dodgers' clubhouse manager.
A series of text messages between the Dodgers and Ramirez's representatives finally produced 99.
"The Dodgers said that's fine if that's what you want to wear," Poole said.
Beimel, by the way, wears No. 97. Maybe the Dodgers simply issue numbers in the 90s to their long-haired dudes.
A guy from the Jimmy Kimmel show -- hey, this is Hollywood, baby -- asked whether Ramirez needed someone to show him around Los Angeles. In Spanish, Manny explained he's got one of those navigation systems.
The LA Times has the dugout reaction following Manny's first home run for the Dodgers last night and more on Ramirez finding peace in Los Angeles:
After rounding the bases to raucous applause and being greeted by Juan Pierre with a hearty slap on the helmet at home plate, Ramirez was serenaded by chants of "Man-ny! Man-ny!" as he returned to the dugout after his first-inning home run.
"I like that they've got my back," Ramirez said of the fans. "I've got their back." ...
Ramirez's teammates nudged him to the front of the dugout for a curtain call in which he raised his cap to acknowledge the fans.
"I'm still kind of nervous, kind of shy," Ramirez said. "I'm still settling in."
The Times has Scott Boras saying he did not make a call to the Red Sox after the trade in an attempt to repair the relationship with Boston:
Agent Scott Boras dismissed a report in the Boston Globe that he had tried to salvage the relationship between Manny Ramirez and the Boston Red Sox after the team had traded the left fielder to the Dodgers as "completely inaccurate." ...
"There was one phone call made to let me know Manny was traded," Boras said Saturday evening. "There was no follow-up phone call."
Ramirez seemed irked when asked about the report before the Dodgers played Arizona at Dodger Stadium.
"That's not true," he said. "You bring your stuff back from Boston. I'm in L.A. already. Talk to me about today."
Yesterday in the Times, Bill Shakin had more on Boras denying he orchestrated the deal:
"Manny did not hire me to get him traded," Boras said. ...
[Curt] Schilling, appearing Thursday on Boston radio station WEEI, said he suspected Boras played a role in trying to force the Red Sox to trade the 36-year-old Ramirez.
"I think he's absolutely had a hand in this," Schilling said. "Scott Boras stands to make zero dollars if the Red Sox pick up Manny's options the next two years."
Said Boras: "I don't know Curt Schilling, other than the fact that, way back when in Philadelphia, he said signing J.D. Drew would be a huge mistake."
Boras said Ramirez did not hire him to figure out how to become a free agent this year, let alone to devise a scheme to get the outfielder out of Boston before then.
"There might have been a renegotiation with the Red Sox in the future," Boras said. "You simply can't anticipate situations like this occurring."
"I never contacted the Red Sox after the deal was made," Boras said.
How about before?
"Theo [Epstein] and I had many discussions," Boras said. "Both parties agreed that it was in the best interest of everyone involved for Manny to move forward." Boras did not address whether the dropping of the options was discussed in his earlier conversations with Epstein.
The Red Sox did not respond to messages seeking comment on the story or Boras's denial.
In the LA Daily News, columnist Steve Dilbeck is a bit skeptical about Manny's quick love affair with all things LA:
Manny loves you sooo much, he never wants to leave you. Wants to spend the rest of his career in Dodger Blue.
And you already love him. Buy tickets to see him. Chant his name. Rise to the edge of your seats when he bats. Lose your collective breath when he absolutely rockets a pitch out of the ballpark.
Now you know how these instant love affairs normally end up. All heat and passion in the moment. All "What was I thinking?" the next.
Be warned this could absolutely be the case of Manny and L.A., but right now all is in the throes of this instant whirlwind love affair. ...
Absolute wild guess, but I'm thinking Boras believes he can garner more than $20 million per, or there's no movement to drop the options.
Kinda hard to see our resident super agent sitting down with general manager Ned Colletti and saying: Hey, he just wants peace! He's more than willing to take a new-home discount.
"Hey, I already made $160 million," Manny said. "I like it here, you know. I'm looking for peace. I got it here. I'm blessed to be here with a bunch of great guys. The team is even young. I love it."
Cue Barry White: Can't get enough of your love, baby.
So much mush, it almost makes you want to turn away in embarrassment.
Dilbeck has more on Manny being happier in LA:
Manny said he went out to dinner Friday with some of his teammates and there was no mob scene. No disruptive combustion. No frantic paparazzi.
"Nobody bothers you," he said. "In Boston, it was like from the stadium to home.
"Over here they don't make it a big deal. Hey, hi, how you doing. Nice hit. Move on. Over there, you go straight home."
Don't recall Manny making this offer to anyone in the Boston media, but LA Times columnist T.J. Simers has Ramirez inviting him to sit on his lap before last night's game:
Ten minutes into my first meeting with Manny Ramirez and he wants me to sit on his lap, and if Kevin Brown has learned to read by now, I'd love to see the expression on his face when he sees that. ...
Manny says, "The guys here have received me with open arms," and to demonstrate, stands up and hugs Mark Sweeney. It's the first contact the pinch-hitter has made in a long time, so I'm happy for Sweeney. ...
"I've already made $160 million," Ramirez says. "I like it here. I'm looking for peace."
That certainly makes him the Parking Lot Attendant's favorite kind of player, I say, Frank McCourt probably more than happy to give him peace, so long as he doesn't have to pay him.
Ramirez laughs and laughs. "Will you put a good word in for me?" he says, but I have to let him know I'm probably not the right guy for that job. ...
Several L.A.-area reporters continue to pester him about Boston, and I say, "Who cares about Boston?"
Ramirez loves it. "Come here and sit on my lap," he says, and I wonder what the newspapers' expense account policy is for tipping baseball players for lap dances.
My buddy wants to move on, but there's one more question about Schilling's criticism of him.
"Why am I going to waste my energy on what people say about me?" he says. "I just want to come here and play hard every game."
The LA Times' Kurt Street has a couple of Dodger fans excited about having Manny on their side:
Sitting on splintered seats, Ruiz and his fellow Dodgers loyalist Renato Casas told me Saturday night they feel like they've died and gone to heaven.
"Surprised isn't the right word, really," said Casas, leaning in to speak to me just after the beginning of the game, which turned out to be a 4-2 Dodgers win. "More like, I just couldn't believe it. I thought I was dreaming."
"I mean, we're talking Manny Ramirez," Ruiz added, tugging his Dodgers cap. "Manny Ramirez? He's the best hitter in baseball. It's that simple. . . . Trust me, one man can make a difference."
The Blue Notes blog in the Times has more from Dodgers manager Joe Torre on Manny's effect on his team:
As Manny explained afterward, he's still a little nervous in his new surroundings. That may be the case, but Ramirez still managed to carry himself like a rock star, a presence lost neither on his teammates nor his manager.
"It's had a great effect on the ball club," smiled Joe Torre. "The players, they get excited. Manny's got that kind of personality and that kind of ability. Hopefully, we can build on it." If nothing, else, I would plan on seeing Dodger fans trip over themselves in an effort to see Manny help shape a box score. It was his second day at the Ravine and flashbulbs were still popping like champagne corks on New Year's Eve every time he stood at the plate. I think it'll be a while before that reaction dies down, if it even does at all.
Blue Notes also had a pregame entry on the environment in the Dodger locker room now that Manny is in the house and more on Manny's quick embrace of LA:
...it's immediately striking to enter the room and hear Latin music- featuring a jumpy beat and funky horns- blaring from an iPod deck. It also becomes immediately apparent that a clubhouse with a locker owned by Manny Ramirez is very different than the one I've become used to covering the Blue for three seasons.
Manny said he wants to stay in L.A. (completely refuting a report that he never wanted to leave Fenway) beyond this season. The man apparently learns quickly what he likes and doesn't like, because he was able to cite plenty of reasons, despite having played just a game here. "The weather is nice. The stadium is beautiful, man." Plus, he likes that unlike his old city, you can go out for dinner after the game without being accosted. I'm curious to see if that opinion remains after his first encounter with TMZ, but Derek Lowe actually said the same thing a couple days ago, for that's worth. That, and fans that allow themselves to have more fun with baseball, as it sounded like the Saux Nation gets a little too agro for his taste. That being said, he understands the desire to see a guy play hard, which Ramirez says he has been and will continue doing, contrary to the opinion recently express by ex-teammate Curt Schilling. Manny also doesn't really care what the righty has to say. "I'm a new chapter. Why am I gonna waste my energy on what people are gonna say about me."