Francona not concerned about Ramirez
Skipper says slugger not pressing as he nears 500 homers
BOSTON -- Manager Terry Francona said on Wednesday that he's not worried about Manny Ramirez as the slugger remained stalled at 498 career home runs.
"I can think of worse numbers to get stuck on -- you can be stuck on 14," said Francona, who actually hit 16 homers in his Major League career. (There was no indication as to how long it took him to get from 14 to 16.)
Asked if he thought Ramirez was pressing, Francona said, "I don't think pressing. I think he, like all hitters ... I don't want to get too specific ... but his timing's been a little bit off. He's not getting that front foot down at the proper times. He's taken some real good swings and he's fouled them back, and he's taken some swings where you can tell he doesn't quite have all his balance or leverage in his swing, but that'll change."
Ramirez, bidding to become baseball's 24th 500-homer man, went deep on May 12, and had gone homerless in 22 at-bats heading into Wednesday night's game. On Tuesday night he flied out to right field his first time up and then struck out three times.
Francona said that he saw signs of Ramirez pressing during some struggles last year.
"I don't know if pressing's the right word," he said. "He knew he wasn't right and it was a battle for him, and he didn't let on. No, I don't think he presses, but he had a fight for a while last year, for an extended period of time.
"I heard him in the dugout in the fifth inning yesterday. I guess when you are really good and you know that you're really good ... A lot of guys, myself included, you'll talk a good game, trying to make everybody think you're not pressing and everybody in the world goes, 'He's pressing.' I don't think Manny does. I think he truly knows what he can do."
Mike Shalin is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.