Notes: Ortiz weighs in on Manny

Notes: Ortiz weighs in on Manny

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- His smile and unique greeting to Red Sox reporters inside the clubhouse made everyone within earshot laugh on Sunday morning.

David Ortiz took his first swings on Sunday in the batting cages at the Minor League complex, then with the sun blazing down on field No. 1, he fielded ground balls from big-league staffer Ino Guerrero.

But Ortiz showed the most range while answering questions about his upcoming season, his future, his teammates, the World Baseball Classic and the whereabouts of one Manny Ramirez.

"I talked to Manny a few weeks ago, and he was going to Italy [on Monday]. I don't know -- he said he was going there. He may have been just [joking]. But he doesn't have to be here until [Wednesday]," Ortiz said.

But Ortiz reiterated that he has no idea where exactly Ramirez is, and he couldn't tell if his teammate was serious about a possible junket to Europe just days before Spring Training. For the record, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said that any discussion of where a player is before he reports is a matter "between the player and club."

Ortiz did indicate that Ramirez seemed very open to the idea of returning to the Red Sox and getting ready to be a productive cleanup hitter behind Ortiz in the order.

"He seems happy," Ortiz said. "I saw in the news that he says he wants to be in Boston. That sounds good to me, having my man around again, and hopefully, things don't change again."

Ortiz may have to pick up some of the clubhouse slack with regard to Ramirez, now that Kevin Millar, a Ramirez guru, is in Baltimore.

"Millar did a lot with Manny to try and get him going, but I guess we're going to have to stick with it," Ortiz said. "I don't think anybody is going to be capable of covering that much range, the spot Millar covered around here. He was an outstanding teammate, and hopefully, I'll get a chance to play with him again."

Ortiz will also miss Johnny Damon.

"He was my boy and I wish him the best, and I'll see him around," he said. "It's going to be a little hard. I talk to Millar a lot, and he misses us a lot. It's going to be hard to not have those guys around. Everybody knew Johnny would always do things off the field, throw parties for the team at his house and have fun."

But Ortiz says that he is ready to accept the challenge of getting to know his new teammates.

"You come to camp, see a bunch of new faces and get them into the mix. That's something that the guys who have been around here have to deal with and have to make sure they feel comfortable [with], and I think that's a big deal."

On the subject of playing in the WBC for his native Dominican Republic, Ortiz said, "I want to play. I've got the opportunity to represent my country. That's something where there are players who play forever and never get to see that. Now, I just came from the Dominican, and people are really excited about the [WBC]."

Ortiz is set to become a free agent after 2006, but his focus, he says, remains on the field.

"I'm not involved with it," he said. "I don't know what's going on, so I'm just thinking about the season now and what's coming up. Hopefully, something will work. I want to stick around. Hopefully, I stay here the rest of my career. I like it here. Everybody's been very nice to me in Boston, and hopefully, I don't have to go through that."

All's Wells: While he only took part in an abbreviated long-toss session instead of full workouts with pitchers and catchers, David Wells did report on Sunday for his physical, and he'll continue to work toward being able throw off a mound, which could be in 10 days.

"I thought it was pretty obvious that he's not ready to be on the field," Red Sox skipper Terry Francona said on Sunday. "We don't need to force him into something he's not ready for."

Wells had surgery on his right (landing) knee last fall.

Mound sessions: Jason Varitek got his first up-close look at Josh Beckett on Sunday, as he caught the right-hander during a 15-minute mound session. Throwing alongside Beckett were lefty Abe Alvarez, Curt Schilling, Jonathan Papelbon and lefty Jon Lester.

Just prior to that group were Matt Clement (pitching to Varitek), Bronson Arroyo, Tim Wakefield and Jimmy Serrano.

"This is a day where our player development staff should be very proud," Francona said. "A lot of people did a great job, and you see it with those pitchers."

In addition to the first day of workouts for pitchers and catchers, nine other position players practiced on the No. 1 field. Practice will resume on Monday at 10 a.m. ET.

Mike Petraglia is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.