Manny gets chatty for a moment

Manny gets chatty for a moment

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- For the past several seasons, Manny Ramirez has maintained his silence with the media almost as steadfastly as he has maintained his reputation among opposing pitchers as one of the most dangerous hitters in the game. Although he likely has devoted far more diligence to the latter than to the former, the two have continued.

Ramirez's hitting is often described by terms that invoke his power, strength, fearlessness and ability. The player himself is often described as enigmatic or childlike, whose behavior is often called curious.

In the absence of communication between player and media, teammates -- most recently, pitcher Julian Tavarez -- have served as Ramirez's spokespeople, attempting to explain, among other things: if the slugger wants to stay with the Red Sox, when Ramirez would report to Spring Training and if he would attend an auction of antique cars instead of reporting to camp.

That curtain of silence between player and media now seems to be lifted, however temporarily, as Ramirez has been downright loquacious recently.

Early Thursday morning, with the Red Sox traveling to Clearwater to play the Phillies, the rest of the team prepared for a workout at City of Palms Park. Although manager Terry Francona had said Wednesday that Ramirez would make the trip, the slugger was at his locker getting ready for batting practice.

"Hey, did you check out eBay this morning?" Ramirez eagerly asked a surprised clubhouse visitor.

And so began a conversation between player and reporter that, however brief, was longer than anything expected.

No, did you?

"I just got to sell the grill and that's it," Ramirez said before it was pulled off eBay. "I don't need this game. I don't have to play anymore -- just sell the grill."

The grill he referred to was the one that appeared on eBay earlier this week, along with his picture, helping a friend's auction. The bidding on the item at one point reached $99 million. The listing, however, was removed because it violated the Web site's company policy.

And, yes, the slugger was obviously joking about retirement.

But what about baseball? Would he talk baseball?

"That's all right," he said. "Don't worry; you don't miss anything."

Ramirez traveled with the team to Bradenton, unexpectedly, Wednesday to play the Pirates. But wasn't he supposed to go on the trip to Clearwater on Thursday, too?

"I know," he said. "But you know, when you start getting old like me, sometimes you have to stay behind."

His lifetime .314 average, 470 home runs, 1,516 RBIs and 438 doubles might refute that notion.

How is he feeling this spring?

"Good, nothing different, the same -- everything's the same for me, just enjoying my life and hanging with this guy right here," he said, as he nodded toward team assistant Ino Guerrero sitting near an adjacent locker.

How does Ramirez feel about all the attention the team has been receiving from the Japanese and international media?

"I don't know," Ramirez said. "I don't pay any mind to it."

How is his new Japanese teammate fitting in with the team?

"Who? I don't know," Ramirez said, saying he has not yet spoken to pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka.

How is his Japanese?

"I don't know Japanese," Ramirez said with a laugh.

Is he bothered when it is said or written that he doesn't care or he's not a team player for reporting after his teammates to Spring Training?

"No, it doesn't bother me," he said. "I'm not mad. Who cares?"

How does he see the team's chances this season?

"I don't know," Ramirez said. "The only thing I worry about is me getting prepared for the season."

And is he ready?

"Like always, just doing my thing and trying to get ready," he said.

What did he do in the offseason?

"The same thing I did for seven years, just travel and work out," he said.

Who is the team to beat this year?

"I don't know," he said. "I'm just trying to beat everybody -- just trying to have a good season."

Are the Yankees the team to beat?

"I don't know. The Yankees? For what?" he said. "I don't worry about the Yankees. I just worry about us. I worry about who we're going to play -- that's it. I don't make it a big deal. I live my life simple, a day at a time -- one day at a time.

"OK, got to go now."

With that, he picked up a bat with one hand and gave his interviewer a hug with his other arm, seemingly ending the conversation. He spritzed himself with cologne and headed out to the batting cages.

After his session in the cages, he added a footnote to the conversation.

"Oh, the thing I forgot to tell you about the grill," he said. "The grill people called my agent; they want me to do a commercial for them.

"You have a good day."

The curtain of silence may have descended once again, but while it was lifted, the play was entertaining.

Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.