Papelbon stands by Manny comments
Sox closer doesn't back down from remarks to Esquire
JUPITER, Fla. -- Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon was not misquoted and he was not taken out of context. The hard-throwing right-hander had no interest in backing down Thursday from his strong words about former teammate Manny Ramirez that were printed 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 told the magazine. "Once we saw that, we weren't afraid to get rid of him. ... He had to go. It [stunk], but that was the only scenario that was going to work. That was it for us."
Papelbon was asked to respond to those comments at City of Palms Park in Fort Myers, Fla., on Thursday morning.
"I think that it's the truth and I'm not afraid to speak the truth about anything," Papelbon told The Associated Press. "I mean, everybody knows what happened. 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 known about, and it is old news. But I know those comments just came out today from a magazine [interview] that I did in the first week of December. But there's no secrets here. The writing is on the wall."
Papelbon then elaborated further.
"Here's the thing, and it's pretty much simple to me and the writing's on the wall, because you have a guy who is on our team and we're losing games and then all of a sudden this guy leaves and they bring in a new guy and we start winning -- the day he left," Papelbon said. "So it's pretty obvious to me [and] to everybody else that was watching what was going on, and you could see it."
The Red Sox went 61-48 with Ramirez in 2008, and 34-19 after his departure. They came within one win of getting back to the World Series, only to be stifled by the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series.
Ramirez, who was scratched from the Dodgers' lineup one hour before Thursday's exhibition game with Team Korea because of a tight left hamstring muscle, chose not to get into a verbal exchange with the closer he won a World Series with in 2007.
"I moved on," Ramirez said. "I don't know why they don't."
However, aside from Papelbon, nobody around the Red Sox has said much of anything about Ramirez since he was traded last July.
Manager Terry Francona was not aware of Papelbon's remarks until a reporter broached the subject before Thursday's Red Sox-Cardinals game in Jupiter. Papelbon was not on the trip.
"From my point of view -- and again, you guys know me well enough -- if I ever have something to say to a player, I'll say it to him in my office," Francona said. "It just doesn't ever make sense for me to talk about stuff like that. As an organization, we do what we think is right for our team, and we did that. We'll continue to do that."
Though Francona would rather his players not make disparaging remarks about other players, he wasn't all that worked up about Papelbon's comments.
"That's Pap's personality," Francona said. "The one thing we don't ever want is somebody criticizing their own teammates. That's first. They know that. Pap has been pretty open about how he feels about everything. Like I was kind of trying to say, the moves we make -- I think that speaks volumes enough. We always put our ballclub in the best position to win."
Papelbon is quite sure Ramirez, at least in his final weeks with Boston, was not putting the team in the best position to win. Papelbon made that clear again Thursday, mentioning what a shame it was that a player of Ramirez's caliber couldn't be happy with the situation he was in with the Red Sox.
"Yeah, because you know how much he could help your team," Papelbon said. "You know how much this guy could really help your team, and he's not. He's sitting out against No. 1 starters, doing this or that. You ask him what knee hurts and he goes, 'Oh, I don't know which one today's going to hurt.' Give me a break. And he thinks it's a big joke. Well, we're out here trying to win ballgames, not figure out which one of your knees hurt."
Fortunately for the Red Sox, they were able to get a quality run producer back in the trade for Ramirez in Jason Bay.
"No question," Papelbon said. "I mean, he was our cure. He was our cure for the disease we had in our clubhouse."
By the end of the day, Papelbon finally sounded as if he was ready to stop elaborating on the type of player and person he viewed Ramirez to be.
"That old news story was four months ago," Papelbon said in a text message to Comcast SportsNet. "I'm not saying anything else, but I'm also not taking back anything I've said already."
In the Esquire piece, Papelbon detailed Ramirez's controversial acts last year before the Red Sox shipped him to the Dodgers in a three-way deal on July 31 at the Trade Deadline, including Ramirez's suspicious injuries and physical confrontation with Boston traveling secretary Jack McCormick.
"He was on a different train!" Papelbon told the magazine. "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.
"So Manny was tough for us. You have somebody like him, you know at any point in the [ballgame], 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!"