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Thursday, March 12, 2009
Red Sox closer Papelbon blasts Manny

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Jonathan Papelbon is apparently still unhappy with Manny Ramirez.

The Boston Red Sox closer calls Ramirez a "cancer" in the April issue of Esquire.

"It just takes one guy to bring an entire team down, and that's exactly what was happening," Papelbon said, according to the magazine. "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 [stunk], but that was the only scenario that was going to work. That was it for us."

The Red Sox dealt Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers at last season's trade deadline after a messy divorce, in which the Red Sox believed Ramirez -- who had a pair of $20 million team options slated for 2009 and 2010 -- was trying to play his way out of town so he and his agent, Scott Boras, could test free agency during the offseason.

Ramirez eventually signed a two-year, $45 million offer with the Dodgers -- the only team known to have offered him a deal.

"He was on a different train!" Papelbon said of Ramirez, according to Esquire. "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."

Papelbon
Papelbon

"So Manny was tough for us," Papelbon added, according to the story. "You have somebody like him, you know at any point in the ball game, he can dictate the outcome of the game. And for him not to be on the same page as the rest of the team was a killer, man!"

But the atmosphere in the clubhouse changed after the trade, Papelbon said, according to Esquire.

"And after, you could feel it in the air in the clubhouse," he said, according to the magazine. "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."

At Dodgers camp, Ramirez seemed unfazed by Papelbon's comments and declined to lash back at his former teammate. "That's fine,'' Ramirez said. "I've already moved on with my life. I wish everybody the best. I'm in L.A. now.

"I'm just focused on playing here. I've got no control over what people said or what I did in the past or whatever. I've moved on already. We're in L.A., and it is what it is.''

In the Red Sox clubhouse before playing the Cardinals in Jupiter, Fla., on Thursday, Papelbon backed up his assertions.

"I'm not afraid to say it," he said. "If it's the truth and I believe it, I'll say it."

Papelbon also said he had not heard from teammates or anyone else asking him to soften his statements about Ramirez.

"Because I think they all know that's the truth," he said. "If I said something that was out of line, then yeah. But I don't think I said anything that's out of line. I spoke the truth.

"There's no secrets here. So, I'm not coming up with some new big hidden secret that nobody knows about. This is something everybody's been knowing about ... and it is old news," he added. "But I know those comments just came out today from a magazine [interview] that I did in the first of December. But there's no secrets here. The writing is on the wall."

Manager Terry Francona didn't condone Papelbon's remarks, while noting the closer usually says what's on his mind.

"That's Pap's personality," Francona said Thursday in Jupiter, Fla., before the Red Sox played the St. Louis Cardinals. "The one thing we don't ever want is somebody criticizing their own teammates. They know that."

Francona would have preferred that Papelbon kept his thoughts to himself.

"Pap is pretty open about how he feels about everything," Francona said. "From my point of view, if I ever have something to say to a player, I'll say it to him in my office."

Ramirez was sent to Los Angeles on Aug. 31 as part of a three-team trade in which Boston received Bay from Pittsburgh. Ramirez became a free agent after the season, then agreed last week to the deal with the Dodgers.

"As an organization, we do what we think is in the best interests of our ballclub," Francona said. "That's what we did. That's what we'll continue to do. The moves we make, I think that speaks volumes enough."

Dodgers manager Joe Torre said he hadn't read Papelbon's comments, and added that he only judges players from personal experience. He said Ramirez has been showing up each day at 6:15 a.m. since he signed with the Dodgers last week, and has been a positive influence since his arrival in Los Angeles last summer.

"I've had a lot of players who have been controversial over the years,'' Torre said. "I had Darryl Strawberry in the middle of the 1996 season. I went to St. Louis [as a player] with a bad tag, so I always appreciated it when people judged me when they got to know me as a person. I try to do the same thing.

"I'm not going to go into what made people make comments, and I'm certainly not going to criticize them for making comments. My concern is Manny and how he plays for the Dodgers. And so far, so good.''

Information from ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick and The Associated Press was used in this report.