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06/04/08 8:43 PM ET

Manny's production not hamstrung

Injury not hampering Ramirez's ability to rack up numbers

BOSTON -- While Manny Ramirez said the right hamstring that has kept him out of left field for four games is still bothering him, it appears to have had little effect on his performance at the plate.

Serving as the Red Sox's designated hitter for the fourth consecutive game, Ramirez entered Wednesday's contest against the Rays at Fenway Park with a season-high nine-game hitting streak, going 14-for-38 (.368) with four home runs -- including his 500th career homer on Saturday -- and 11 RBIs during that span.

For now, though, he's not sure if his hamstring feels better.

"I don't know," said Ramirez, with his braids wrapped in a tight white cap and his right leg wrapped in a large ice pack, in the clubhouse before the game. "It's been like that for like two weeks, but it's getting better. I'm getting treatment on it. I don't know. I've been running on it, but it feels like it's pulling. That's why I got to go through the base."

Although he's had hamstring issues in the past, this time, it feels "weird," Ramirez said.

"I haven't had my hamstring like this for how long?" Ramirez said. "Four years? Three years? So I'm playing through it. Maybe this one is weird because, when you pull it, you don't know that you're going to pull it. But now this one is like every time I run, it bothers me, you know."

With David Ortiz on the 15-day disabled list with a partially torn tendon sheath in his left wrist, manager Terry Francona is able to insert Ramirez in at DH, utilizing a speedy outfield of Jacoby Ellsbury, Coco Crisp and J.D. Drew.

But Francona is keeping an eye on his erstwhile left fielder, to ensure that his hamstring is not further aggravated. Francona was watching on Tuesday night, as Ramirez went 1-for-4 with a single, while also reaching on an error by Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett in the sixth inning.

"Manny goes through it, I think, three or four times a year," Francona said. "Sometimes, he has to miss time. But because the DH spot opened up, he hasn't had to miss time. If it ever gets to the point where we need to, we'll sit him. [On Tuesday], you could see his gait to first was even. But you could tell he was thinking about it.

"You could see he knew the importance of getting down the line [on the error play]. But you could almost see him trying to do enough, but not too much. He told me six days ago, 'This is what I got. It hurts a little bit, but I'll do the best I can.' And he's done a good job."

Ramirez, who homered on Saturday, Sunday and Monday -- the 20th time in his career he's homered in at least three consecutive games -- said he does not feel any added pressure to produce with Ortiz out of the lineup. But, he acknowledged, he's glad to have the 500-homer milestone behind him.

"Well, in that situation, I was happy to breath," Ramirez said. "I just wanted to get that out of the way and move on. That's kind of stupid, you know, changing balls. I understand maybe when you're at 599 or 499, but not changing balls every time. That feels kind of stupid. For me, it is."

Ramirez said he loves DH'ing because "it's easy," but he will gladly give a healthy Ortiz his customary position back, rather than switching positions and sending Ortiz to left field, because "we don't want to make a circus."

"I just got to be myself," he said of DH'ing. "And now that I got 500 out of the way, I'm just going to have fun. What I get from now on is like extra. What is there for me to do, steal bases now?"

Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.