BOSTON - The Manny Ramirez era in Boston is over, his homers and headaches shipped far, far away to Los Angeles.
Good riddance to a clubhouse cloud? Or good gosh, how could the Red Sox trade a future Hall of Famer and still powerful cleanup hitter with a pennant race heating up?
They’ ll find out in the next two months if Jason Bay, obtained from Pittsburgh in a three-team trade Thursday to take Ramirez’ s spot in left field, can help them reach the postseason with the on-field punch but without the off-field distractions that marked Ramirez’ s nearly eight seasons in Fenway Park.
Ramirez was MVP of the 2004 World Series, when the Red Sox won their first championship in 86 years. But hustling to first base on grounders often seemed too much of a chore.
He hit 45 homers in 2005 then asked to be traded after the season.
In 2006 he hit .321 then said again he didn’ t want to play for Boston.
He appeared happy in spring training and interacted with reporters more than in the past. He was friendly and polite. Even chatty. The inspirational book “The Secret,” seemed to have changed him into a very positive thinker who was convinced he would have such a good season that the Red Sox would have no choice but to pick up his $20 million option for 2009.
“It’ s about life,” he said. “It’ s good. You should read it. Go and buy it.”
In the same interview, he also said he was happy in Boston.
“Hey, this is the place to be,” Ramirez said. “I want to finish my career here.”
Not going to happen.
Not after the Red Sox sent him to the Dodgers and outfielder Brandon Moss and reliever Craig Hansen to Pittsburgh for Bay. The Pirates also obtained third baseman Andy LaRoche and pitcher Bryan Morris from the Dodgers.
The 29-year-old Bay was hitting .282 with 22 homers and 64 RBIs. He is a two-time All-Star and seven years younger than Ramirez.
On Sunday, Ramirez criticized the Red Sox, telling ESPNdeportes, “I’ m tired of them. They’ re tired of me.”
Two days earlier, he was scratched from the starting lineup when he said his right knee was sore. MRIs later that day on both knees “came back fine,” manager Terry Francona said.
Ramirez knocked down team traveling secretary Jack McCormick in the visitors’ clubhouse before a game in Houston when he asked for tickets, the Providence Journal reported.
And he told the Boston Herald during the All-Star break he wanted to know what his situation was and he didn’ t want the club to “tell you one thing and behind your back they do another thing.” Red Sox owner John Henry said he found that “personally offensive.”
Ultimately, the Red Sox decided that wasn’ t worth the power Ramirez brought to the lineup — a .299 batting average with a team-high 20 homers and 68 RBIs this season. For his career in Boston, he was fifth in team history with 274 homers, sixth with 868 RBIs and ninth with a .312 average.
The Red Sox had tried to unload the remainder of his eight-year, $160 million contract after the 2003 season when they placed him on waivers. No team claimed him. Then they tried to trade him for Alex Rodriguez. That didn’ t work out either.
Now he’ s taking his slugging to the West Coast. The Dodgers will soon find out if he left his strange behavior behind.