Papelbon calls Manny a ‘cancer’

He tries to get out, but they keep pulling him back in.

Manny Ramirez can’t seem to stay out of the headlines in Boston.

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Papelbon fires a few shots at Manny. (AP)>

In the latest go-round in Mannyland, Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon fires some high heat at Manny in an interview in the April issue of Esquire magazine. In the article, he touches on Manny, Mariano Rivera, his competitive nature, and answers the question of whether or not he will start a game again in the major leagues.

“… So Manny was tough for us. You have somebody like him, you know at any point in the ball game, he can dictate the outcome of the game,” Papelbon is quoted as saying in the interview with Esquire’s Chris Jones that took place in mid-January. “And for him not to be on the same page as the rest of the team was a killer, man! It just takes one guy to bring an entire team down, and that’s exactly what was happening.

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“Once we saw that, we weren’t afraid to get rid of him. It’s like cancer. That’s what he was. Cancer. He had to go. It sucked, but that was the only scenario that was going to work. That was it for us. And after, you could feel it in the air in the clubhouse. We got Jason Bay — Johnny Ballgame, plays the game right, plays through broken knees, runs out every ground ball — and it was like a breath of fresh air, man! Awesome! No question.”

Papelbon said the team got rid of Ramirez when they realized he was becoming a distraction.

“The beautiful thing about our team is, we don’t let anybody get above the team. He wasn’t on the same train as the rest of us,” Papelbon said in the story. “He was on a different train! And you saw what happened with that. We got rid of him, and we moved on without him. That comes from the manager, and it comes from guys like Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield and David Ortiz. Nobody is ever going to be allowed to do that. Even a guy like me, just heading into my fourth year in the big leagues — if David Ortiz gets a little, you know — I’ll tell him what’s up! I’m not afraid to do that. I’m not afraid to put him in his place, because I think everybody needs that. And if somebody does it to me, I understand that. I most certainly understand that. Varitek tells me all the time, ‘Just shut up. Do what you’re supposed to do.’

Manny Ramirez

Manny will be the DH for the Dodgers today (AP)>

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Ramirez last week signed a two-year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers worth $45 million. He is scheduled to make his spring training debut today as Joe Torre’s DH when the Dodgers play South Korea’s World Baseball Classic team.

When word reached him that Papelbon took a few shots at him today, Ramirez brushed it off. “I’m here, not there anymore,” Ramirez said. “I moved on.”

According to the Globe’s Nick Cafardo, Red Sox manager Terry Francona played it safe in responding to Jonathan Papelbon’s comments in Esquire. Francona said if he has something to say he would do so with the player behind closed doors. “It doesn’t make sense to talk about stuff like that. We did what we thought was the right thing for our team (in trading Ramirez) and we’ll continue to do that,” Francona said. The manager did say he preferred players not to speak out like Papelbon did, but he certainly understands the opinionated Papelbon.

Ramirez has reportedly been showing up at Dodgers’s camp at 6 a.m. each day since he arrived in camp, lifting weights in full uniform before most of his teammates check in for the day.

“I’m behind, so I have to catch up,” said Ramirez, who planned to be in camp Wednesday while his teammates got a day off. “I’m going to run the bases and lift and do what I need to do. I’m still sore, but it’s getting better day by day. I’m still getting used to wearing [spikes] again. But I’m ready to see how I do.”

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Don’t look for Papelbon to be making a start against Manny and the Dodgers, the Yankees, or anyone else anytime soon. “Print this,” he says in the story. “I will never start a baseball game in my life, ever.”

And regarding Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, Papelbon has nothing but praise and admiration for the renowned reliever. “Mariano Rivera is a great pitcher. I think he’s a good guy. But I want to break every one of his numbers. I want to be the best there ever was,” Papelbon said. “…He’s the Godfather. He made this position what it is today. Now my job is to make it even greater.”

Update: The Globe’s Amalie Benjamin reports that Papelbon spoke today and said he isn’t sorry about the comments made about Ramirez.

“It takes 25 guys on a team to win, not 24, and that was blatantly obvious,” Papelbon said today after the club’s workout. “It doesn’t matter who you are — you could be Babe Ruth — if you’re not in that same cubbyhole with the rest of the guys going to war with you, you’re all going to die. That almost happened.”

Material from MLB.com and the Associated Press was used in this update.

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