Boston Red Sox ownership, including John Henry, and front office, including Theo Epstein, had decided before the 2008 season that Manny Ramirez might be back in 2009 and even 2010.
It wasn’t in granite. But they would see how 2008 flushed out, how Ramirez both played and behaved, before deciding on the first of two $20 million club options.
Despite his flaws, Ramirez still was one of the best right-handed hitters of his generation.
But everything changed in Houston on June 28.
That was the day Red Sox traveling secretary, Jack McCormick, one of the most popular employees among the players, was shoved to the floor by Ramirez over a ticket request.
Ramirez wanted 16 tickets. It was one of the rare times that McCormick couldn’t help him.
Other than the fact that we were told the pair had “ironed things out” and Ramirez apologized, there was little public disclosure.
It was later learned that the Red Sox fined Ramirez $15,000.
“That was it for Manny in terms of 2009 and beyond,” said a source with ties to the Red Sox. “If there was any chance of him returning after this season, it ended there. (Ownership) had had enough.”
But there was no suspension, which surprised several players.
According to one player, Ramirez’s incident with McCormick crossed the line.
“Jack is the nicest guy you’d ever meet,” said a Sox player who requested anonymity. “A lot of guys on this team were ticked about that.”
As for notion of trading Ramirez, in 2008, that occurred when the Yankees came to Boston last week and he said his knee was too sore to play.
“When you quit on your team, that’s the worst thing you can do,” said the Red Sox player. “He had to go after that.”