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Agent says Ramirez ready to return to Red Sox

NEW ORLEANS -- Manny Ramirez is prepared to return to Boston
if he isn't traded for AL MVP Alex Rodriguez.

"He's comfortable playing out his career with the Boston Red Sox," Jeff Moorad, the agent for the Red Sox outfielder, said at
baseball's winter meetings on Sunday. "If a trade happens, he'll
adjust accordingly."

The Red Sox and Texas Rangers have discussed a trade in which Ramirez
would be sent to Texas in exchange for Rodriguez, a blockbuster
that would swap the sport's only two $20 million men. The deal has
gotten hung up on Texas' demand that the Red Sox pay a substantial
portion of Ramirez's salary in addition to the $179 million due to
Rodriguez.

Moorad said he has heard no news on the deal, but that "it's
probably alive at some level." Even so, he advised Ramirez to
prepare as if he will play for the Red Sox next season.

"He's sitting by the phone, wondering if it's going to ring,"
Moorad said. "If there is a transaction that occurs, I don't think
it will surprise Manny. He appreciates, like anyone else, that this
is a business, like it or not."

Moorad said Ramirez, who has been temperamental and complained
about playing in Boston, would not hold a grudge against the team
for dangling him in trade talks.

The proposed deal with Texas would have left Boston with two
All-Star shortstops. Boston would then trade Nomar Garciaparra,
probably for pitching.

Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein, who declined to comment on
the Ramirez talks, has said the team's first choice would be to
re-sign Garciaparra to a reasonable long-term deal. Garciaparra
rejected a four-year, $60 million offer last spring.

The market appeared to have declined since then, but that took a
jolt on Sunday when Baltimore Orioles signed free agent shortstop and
former AL MVP Miguel Tejada to a six-year, $72 million deal that is
the richest and longest of the offseason so far.

The deal may have helped establish a price for Garciaparra that is more than the Red Sox are willing to pay.

"One signing does not make the market," Epstein said. "Baltimore is a team that's been having a hard time attracting players in the past. So that might be a part of it," he said. "Every team has its own priorities and its own needs."

Garciaparra's agent, Arn Tellem, said the Red Sox have not yet started negotiations for an extension.