Manny Wants To Be Manny--In Boston

Has the honeymoon period finally arrived for the Red Sox and Manny Ramirez?

The Sox and Ramirez have spent much of the last seven years trying to divorce themselves from one another. But this winter marked the first time since 2002 the Sox haven't tried to trade Ramirez, who seemed happier last season than in years past and reportedly told the Sox he wanted to retire in Boston and see his number retired at Fenway Park.

Ramirez, heading into the final guaranteed year of his contract, spoke to reporters in Ft. Myers Thursday and said he hopes to finish his career with the Sox, who have $20 million options on Ramirez for 2009 and 2010.

"I want to finish my career here, but it's up to them," Ramirez said. "If that doesn't happen, hey, I'll go and play somewhere else. I know I still can play. And what else can I say? It's up to them. I'm not the one who writes the checks."

Ramirez said he would not demand the Sox pick up his option or sign him to an extension. "They're the ones, it's up to them to say ‘OK, we're going to pay,'" Ramirez said. "It's not up to me to go into the office and demand a four-year deal, whatever. I'm going to come here to play the game, finish my year. If they want me to come back, I'll come back."

Ramirez, who missed most of September last year with an oblique injury and fell short of 30 homers and 100 RBI for the first time since 1997, said he considered the season a success because the Sox won the World Series and that he thought it "a blessing" to have won two World Series rings, especially since Sox legends such as Ted Williams never won a championship.

"'07 was great for me," Ramirez said. "I learned a lot. I would trade those numbers for a World Series ring. So I got the ring again. I'm blessed, man."

While Ramirez credited the Athletes Performance Institute in Arizona for their work with him this winter, he shrugged off the expectations of players such as the Rays' Carl Crawford (who also worked out at API) and teammate David Ortiz, the latter of whom said Wednesday he believes Ramirez will have a big season.

"I don't know," Ramirez said. "I'm just going to go play the game, man. Whatever happens, happens."

News and notes: reported Bruce Hurst, who has been in camp with the Sox as an instructor, may begin working for the club full-time. Hurst, who went 108-73 for the Sox from 1980-88 and would have won the 1986 World Series MVP had the Sox held on to win Game Six, was most recently the pitching coach for the Chinese national team...The Sox finally have their first full-squad workout of the spring Friday. Before they take the field, players will participate in a team meeting that will feature speeches from Terry Francona, Theo Epstein and Larry Lucchino...The Associated Press reported Thursday the two regular season games between the Sox and Athletics at the Tokyo Dome Mar. 25-26 are sold out.

Diehard managing editor Jerry Beach can be reached at To receive a free issue of Diehard, call 888-501-5752. To subscribe to Diehard or, please CLICK HERE.

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