Manny makes another memorable play
Ramirez snares line drive, high-fives fan, doubles up runner
BALTIMORE -- Red Sox rookie center fielder Jonathan Van Every's Major League debut Wednesday was doubly memorable. Not only did the eight-year Minor Leaguer, called up from Triple-A Pawtucket earlier in the day, get his first career hit, but he had an up-close-and-personal view of a play he doubts will be repeated.
Any notion that outfielder Manny Ramirez's march toward 500 home runs would affect other parts of his game was put to rest when the dreadlocked slugger flashed some serious leather to ignite an incredible inning-ending double play from the warning track in left-center field in the fourth inning.
"That was great entertainment. ... I don't think it's happened before, and I don't think it'll ever happen again," Van Every said.
Probably not, but thanks to video, the moment will live forever.
With two on and one down, Ramirez's former teammate, Kevin Millar, slammed a ball to left-center that appeared destined to carry over Ramirez's head. On a full sprint and fully extended, Ramirez chased it down just before he hit the warning track for the second out.
"I thought I was not going to have any chance to throw the guy out at first, but I did it anyway," Ramirez said. "I just got a bad jump, but I never give up. I go there and I caught it."
What happened next made it even more special.
In two strides, Ramirez was at the seven-foot wall. He propelled himself up the green, cushioned wall with his right foot and high-fived a fan -- one wearing a Red Sox T-shirt, no less -- before getting back to business. Using his momentum, which was now pushing him toward the field, Ramirez spotted second baseman Dustin Pedroia in short left field and saw Aubrey Huff, who had singled, desperately trying to scamper around second base and get back to first.
Ramirez hit Pedroia with his relay and Pedroia's throw to first baseman Kevin Youkilis beat Huff to complete the double play.
"Great play. That play saved that inning," Red Sox starter Jon Lester said after watching Ramirez corral his near-mistake. "That's Manny being Manny -- talking about Gold Glove and playing better defense this year, and he's doing it."
Mike Lowell, Jacoby Ellsbury and some of Ramirez's other teammates gathered around a television camera in the dugout to review the play between innings. After the game, they were just as mesmerized by the stellar effort.
"Manny -- you see something new all the time," said bench coach Brad Mills, who managed the club while Terry Francona attended his mother-in-law's funeral in Arizona. "Somebody in the dugout said, 'I've seen it all now.' It was a great catch."
Orioles manager Dave Trembley thought the rally-killing play might be an ominous turning point for his club, which prevailed, 6-3, on Jay Payton's seventh-inning grand slam.
"Ramirez makes a great catch and more times than not, that takes the wind out right of your sails and you say, 'OK, here we go again,'" Trembley said.
Ever the showman, Ramirez said he was just doing what baseball players are supposed to do -- excel at a game and enjoy yourself while doing so.
"I think that's part of the game. This is a game -- you've got to go enjoy it and have fun," Ramirez said.
Pete Kerzel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.