By ENRIQUE ROJAS
MIAMI (ESPNdeportes.com)-- Manny Ramirez doesn't think he'll be traded to the Baltimore Orioles, or any other team for that matter. Now he's getting used to the idea of being in a Boston Red Sox uniform for a long time to come.
"There will be no trade, I'm staying in Boston, where I'm familiar with the system and where I have a lot of friends, especially David Ortiz," Ramirez told ESPNdeportes.com while in Miami on personal business.
Ortiz was happy to hear that.
"Manny staying in Boston, that's the best gift I could get," said Ortiz Thursday night from the Dominican Republic, where he is playing winter baseball.
"Manny is one of the team's biggest assets, so this decision is good for him, for me and for the Red Sox," added Ortiz.
Ramirez, one of the most feared hitters in the majors, had once again demanded a trade from the Red Sox, and even threatened to hold out during spring training if Boston did not grant his wish. The outfielder's contract, through which he is still owed $57 millon over the next three seasons, in addition to the unpredictability of his expressed wishes, have hampered Boston's efforts to trade him.
Over the last two weeks, the Red Sox held multiple conversations with Baltimore about a trade for Miguel Tejada, who also asked to be dealt from the Orioles, but the talks stalled when Ramirez reportedly said that he would approve the trade only if the team he was dealt to would exercise two $20 millon options on his contract.
The New York Mets also attempted to acquire the slugger during this offseason.
"I'm going to take things easy and focus on my career," said Ramirez.
The MVP of the 2004 World Series thinks Boston may still try to trade him, but Ramirez has the right to veto any deal and wants to stay in the American League. "I know the American League system. That's one reason I don't want to go to the National League," he said. "I also want to play for a contender, and I think with Boston I'm assured of that."
Ramirez, 33, hit .292 with 45 home runs and 140 RBI in 2005, his fifth season with the Red Sox. Boston signed the slugger to a eight-year, $160 million contract in December of 2000.
In his 13-year career, the first eight with the Cleveland Indians, the nine time All-Star has a .314 average, with 435 home runs and 1,414 RBI. He was the American League batting champion in 2002 (.349) and led the junior circuit that year in home runs (43). He led the majors with 165 RBI in 1999.
Ramirez also reiterated his intention of playing for his native Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, and gave a vote of support to Alex Rodriguez, who reportedly will play for the United States in the international event.
"Alex is American. We have to understand that and respect him and his decision."