Bizarre report: Manny Ramirez might play winter ball

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ESPNDeportes.com’s Enrique Rojas has a report up presenting text messages from Manny Ramirez saying he’s interested in playing winter ball in his native Dominican Republic for the Aguilas Cibaenes.

The odd thing is that text messages were actually written more than two weeks ago, and Rojas gives no indication of whom they happened to be addressed to.

According to Rojas, Ramirez wrote the following text messages on April 11 and 12 respectively:

“Now I have an Aguilas hat.”
“Tell the fans to not despair because winter ball is coming soon.”

Rojas, though, did manage to get a direct quote from Ramirez on Thursday, saying “Now I’m getting ready to defend the 21st crown of the Aguilas.”

If Ramirez opted to return to MLB following his winter ball stint, he’d still presumably have to serve a 100-game drug suspension. Realistically, he’d only have the slightest chance of drawing minimal interest next spring if he got some team to do him a favor and sign him now, allowing him to serve the suspension over the rest of this season.

Video: J.D. Martinez hits league-tying 23rd home run

Seattle Mariners v Boston Red Sox
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The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.

In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.

The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.

Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.