By Joe McDonald
BOSTON _ Take a deep breath Red Sox fans because Manny is back in the lineup.
He's playing left field and batting fourth.
"Don't even worry guys," he said to a group of reporters waiting to talk with him this afternoon, "I'm not talking, I'm playing."
With that, he walked over to the board where the lineup is posted, saw his name and walked back across the clubhouse.
"My name is in the lineup," he said again. "I'm playing."
Even though the lineup card wasn't posted earlier this afternoon, Francona said he and Ramirez agreed late Friday night that he would play on Saturday. The manager said Ramirez's right knee is fine.
As reported by Sean McAdam on Saturday, if Ramirez did not agree to play in Game Two of this series against the Yankees, then there would be disciplinary action taken against the slugger.
When Francona was asked about that situation this afternoon, he wouldn't get into it.
"My responsibility is to put the ballclub first," said Francona. "How we handle disciplinary issues has got to remain internal. That will never change."
The last two days, Francona has been very careful choosing his words in regards to Ramirez. In the end, however, the manager said these things happen during the progression of a long season.
"We have run into bumps in the road ever since I've been here (2004)," he said. "There's been some before I've been here. The result - two of the times - have been World Series rings. As a team, sometimes you fight through things and sometimes you work through things. It's not always perfect, but how you get to the end is what counts. That's what we're tying to do.
"It's not always perfect," added the manager. "The idea is to get better when you through some times that maybe aren't perfect, it's how you come through it that is ultimately important. I'm hopeful it will be the same way this time."
Ramirez took the Red Sox by surprise last Wednesday in Seattle when he informed the manager that he could not play due to a sore right knee. The Sox had Thursday off, and when the clubhouse opened on Friday, Ramirez was originally in the lineup for Game One of this series against the Yankees.
Again, Ramirez told Francona he couldn't play. That prompted a closed-door meeting with Ramirez, Francona, management and ownership. Ramirez was then sent to the hospital for an MRI on both his knees, which both came back negative.
"There were some misunderstandings this week," admitted Francona. "There's no way of getting around that. It doesn't mean he's a bad person. We expect a lot and when things don't go right, we try to make them right."
During BP today, Ramirez spent a few minutes talking with the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez next to the cage. A few other Yankee players came over and shook hands with the Red Sox slugger. It safe to say it's been an interesting few days for Ramirez and the Red Sox.