Pedro encourages fans to give Manny warm welcome
Slugger expected to take part in 10-year anniversary of 2004 championship
BOSTON -- When the 2004 Red Sox have their 10-year reunion at Fenway Park next week, there should be great memories of the characters that helped break an 86-year World Series championship drought.
Amid a festive atmosphere, Pedro Martinez hopes that Red Sox fans rise to the occasion and give Manny Ramirez a warm welcome in his first visit to Fenway Park since 2010.
"It took a lot for him to come," said Martinez. "He wants to make it up to the Boston fans. He wants to show everybody that he's a different person, that he's a Christian man and a role model to his family. His kids are going to be here. It will be nice if we all kind of get together and just make a fun day out of it and remember that Manny was the MVP [of the World Series] and he's the biggest reason probably why we won it."
The ceremony will take place prior to the May 28 home game against the Braves.
When the Red Sox signed Ramirez to an eight-year contract in December 2000, Martinez was one of the players who helped recruit him.
Fittingly, Martinez also was one of the key people to encourage Ramirez to come back to Boston for a reunion in which nearly every core member of the "Idiots" will be on hand.
"Yeah, I tried to talk him into it," Martinez said. "He wants to make up with Boston again."
There were many highs and lows for Ramirez in Boston, but nobody can dispute he is one of the best hitters in club history.
In eight seasons with the Sox, Ramirez was a .312 hitter with 274 homers and a .999 OPS.
Ramirez was traded for Jason Bay in 2008 after several incidents, including a dugout skirmish with Kevin Youkilis and an altercation in which he pushed traveling secretary Jack McCormick to the ground.
After his departure from the Red Sox, Ramirez was twice suspended for violation of MLB's performing-enhancing drugs policy, the latter of which occurred during his brief stint for the Rays in 2011.
But Martinez can sense how regretful Ramirez is of those incidents.
"He made a couple of mistakes," said Martinez. "He knows it, but now he knows he's a different man. He's a Christian man and all he wants to talk about is God."
This will be the first time Ramirez has done anything in affiliation with the Red Sox since his controversial departure from the club.
"His kids, I'm pretty sure, are very excited to come over and see their dad again in Fenway," Martinez said. "I think fans should take that in consideration."