Bob Harkins


Papi feels bad for troubled Manny, says he’s ‘a good dude’


David Ortiz hasn’t seen his friend and former Red Sox teammate Manny Ramirez since the spring, when Boston played Tampa Bay in a Grapefruit League contest.

But he is well aware of all that has been going on with Ramirez this season, and feels bad for the disgraced former star.

Ramirez, who retired abruptly in April after news surfaced that he faced a 100-game suspension for failing a drug test for the second time, was arrested on Monday on charges of domestic violence. He was accused of slapping his wife in the face, causing her to hit her head on a bed’s headboard. He was released on $2,500 bail on Tuesday.

Ortiz spoke to Joe McDonald of about Ramirez on Friday, and while he didn’t condone Ramirez’s actions, he did say that retirement can be hard on a player who is used to playing baseball every day, and that stopping so suddenly, as Ramirez did, could be difficult.

He also spoke of reaching out to Ramirez to see how he was doing.

“He had a wonderful career, and it didn’t end the way he wanted it to, but he still had a great career. You marry your wife one day because you think that’s the right person to be right next to. Now that you need her the most, you don’t want to be going through things like that. It’s easier said than done, but Manny’s a good dude. He’s not a bad person. I hope everything works out for him and his family.”

It’s a sad story, and whatever you think of Manny Ramirez, you have to hope that this isn’t the beginning of a story that turns even sadder. Let’s hope that Ortiz is right about Manny. Maybe he can help his former teammate.

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Kershaw won’t be suspended for plunking Parra


Los Angeles Dodgers left-handed ace Clayton Kershaw will not be suspended for hitting Arizona’s Gerardo Parra with a pitch on Wednesday night, according to Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times.

Umpire Bill Welke ejected Kershaw quickly in the sixth inning after an inside fastball bounced off Parra’s elbow. Welke was clearly reacting to the previous night’s festivities, when Kershaw screamed at Diamondbacks players after Parra stood and watched a home run.

Welke’s reaction is not surprising. In a way, it would have been more surprising if Kershaw had not plunked Parra at some point. Even D-backs broadcaster Mark Grace expected some fireworks, saying excitedly on Tuesday night’s game broadcast that “Kershaw’s gonna drill somebody. Alright!”

The problem is, if Kershaw did in fact drill Parra on purpose, he did about as good a job as possible in making it subtle. Parra was hugging the plate, and Kershaw’s pitch was not that far off the plate. A fastball to the middle of the back or the ribs would be one thing, but the pitch in question simply wasn’t that obvious.

The lack of a suspension proves that. And that’s a good thing. Kershaw is a strong contender for the NL Cy Young award, and it would be a shame to see him miss any starts the rest of the way over a minor incident.

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Vizquel hopes to play next season at age 45


Omar Vizquel was once one of the best – if not the best – defensive shortstops in baseball. He’s little more than an aging utility man these days, but that doesn’t mean he’s ready to call it quits.

Vizquel, who turns 45 in April, tells Chuck Garfien of that he hopes to land a spot on someone’s roster next season.

An easy-going sort, Vizquel said he’s not worried about playing time, but thinks he still has the ability to compete.

“I would love to have the opportunity to play another year,” Vizquel said. “I think I have the ability to play. I don’t think there’s much difference between me and the other guys on teams. I’m not expecting to play every day, but I think I can still play.”

Vizquel said he’d love to return to the White Sox, but doesn’t expect to, given Chicago is a high-payroll, veteran-laden disappointment of a team in need of new life. In fact, he said that poor body language by his teammates is inspiring him to keep playing.

“I feel 35 (years old). I look at players on this team right now that are around that age or less. You look at them playing, and it’s made me want to play more because the body language is not what you’d like to see. I don’t think I have that kind of body language and I don’t like to show it even if I’m tired. That is why I want to continue,” Vizquel said. “I feel great. I have a lot of energy. I still have the passion, and I still have the legs. That’s the main reason why.”

He didn’t point the finger at any players in particular, but said he didn’t think it was an issue of fatigue. “They don’t have that spark.”

Vizquel has played only 57 games this season, hitting .245 with a .282 OBP. He has split time at shortstop, third base, second base and first base this season.

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