Sure, Manny had his unique issues prior to that season, but things always had a way of working themselves out. The fact that Ramirez was traded away that summer and hasn't returned since means that there was never any opportunity for closure.
Yet while Red Sox fans, players, managers and even owners could deal with the occasional "Manny being Manny" moment, it was only because he never let it interfere with his play on the field. Until July of 2008.
With the Yankees in Boston for a three-game set and with the Sox three games ahead of New York in the standings, Ramirez took himself out of the lineup for the second straight day, claiming he had a sore right knee. At the time, he had an 11-game hitting streak going, during which he was batting .487. The Red Sox lost 1-0.
In a rare case of the team simply not putting up with any of Manny's antics, the Red Sox ordered Ramirez to get MRIs on both of his knees. Why both? Mainly because he wasn't sure which knee was hurting him.
Begrudgingly, everyone assumed, Ramirez returned to the lineup the next day, and he promptly went 0-for-4.
The Red Sox and their fans had put up with a lot to that point, but taking himself out of the lineup for an injury that didn't appear to be real was the last straw.
It is, however, important to note that at that time of the season, Ramirez was among the team leaders in games played. It's since become a catchphrase of sorts to say that Manny "dogged it" in his final days in Boston, yet his July numbers were eye-popping. He played in 22 of a possible 24 games, batting .347 with four homers, 16 RBIs and a .473 on-base percentage. Clearly, when he was on the field, he was a force, so when he took himself off the field and felt no need to explain himself, it was that much more damaging to his public image.
Manny, for his part, never really showed much concern when it came to that image, however. Maybe his knee — or both knees — really were bothering him. Maybe he was actually hurt. He'll never talk about it, so we'll never know.
However, the fact that he was traded just days later likely means the Red Sox knew the answer.
Each day leading up to Manny's return to Boston on June 18,
NESN.com will run through one highlight and one lowlight from his career
with the Red Sox.
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