Curt Schilling called into WEEI Radio yesterday afternoon and, with the help of former Red Sox infielder Lou Merloni, shed more light -- none of it flattering -- on Manny Ramirez and the problems that led the Red Sox to trade him to the Dodgers in the final minutes of the trade deadline.
"It's the life that we lived every day, and even if we told people the truth they still wouldn't believe it," Schilling said in a call to WEEI's The Big Show, which was being co-hosted by two ex-Sox players, Merloni and Brian Daubach. "What [the public hears and sees] is 10 to 20 percent of what went on."
Schilling, who played with Ramirez from 2004-07, and Merloni, who was Ramirez' Boston teammate from 2001-03, told a story of a player who, according to Schilling, had a "level of disrespect to teammates and to people [that] was just unfathomable."
"The fact of the matter was, you looked at a guy who, at the end of the day, when you look back on the history, never, ever cared about any of us," said Schilling.
The trigger to the problems, according to Schilling, was the decision by the Red Sox not to negotiate a contract extension with Ramirez this spring. The Sox held options on Ramirez' contract for 2009 and 2010, and didn't feel the need to grant an extension.
"One of the things you could never talk [bad] about Manny was his work ethic," said Schilling. "Manny worked as hard as anybody I ever played with. And he put a lot of time and effort into it this winter to come into spring training in the best shape he could be, because . . . he said it, in his mind he expected, as soon as they saw the shape he was in and the numbers he started to put up, that they would sign him to an extension and they'd [tear up] the two option years.
"The day he realized that they were not going to sign him to an extension was the day he said, 'Uncle. I'm done.'"
Schilling discounted the notion that super agent Scott Boras, who signed Ramirez as a client in the offseason, prompted Ramirez to try to force his way out of Boston. While he acknowledged that Boras would get "absolutely nothing from Manny Ramirez without a new contract" and said he felt "I thought the day [Ramirez] signed with Boras was his last day in a uniform here," he also said: "Ultimately, you know what? I don't care how immature he is. [Ramirez is] a grown man. He makes his own decisions."
As this season progressed, Ramirez' behavior worsened. It manifested itself publicly several times, such as the dugout confrontation with Kevin Youkilis in early June and his shoving to the ground of traveling secretary Jack McCormick in Houston later that month.
"Lately, after talking to a lot of [current Red Sox players . . . I learned] that over the last year, he was impossible to deal with," said Merloni. "And he wasn't worth it anymore."
Finally, management approached the rest of the players.
"It was never a situation that was brought before the team, ever," said Schilling. "It was always a situation where [manager Terry Francona] was thrown under the bus and fell on the sword for Manny and other players, even though we all knew that those players were acting stupid or being stupid or being disrespectful. And for the first time ever, thankfully, [general manager Theo Epstein and Francona] finally said, 'Okay, listen, let's put it in front of the players because we just don't know what to do.'
"And I think the result was what everyone would have voted three years ago."
The result -- Ramirez' trade to the Dodgers -- averted a potential second-half crisis, said Schilling.
"I'm totally convinced [Ramirez was going to claim he was injured and] play half the games the rest of the year. And he made it clear he didn't want to play. We've all seen what Manny does when Manny doesn't want to play," said Schilling.
Schilling was referring to 2006, when Ramirez announced he had a hamstring injury on Aug. 21 and played 10 games the rest of the season.
David Ortiz was Ramirez' best friend on the team and had frequently intervened with management on Ramirez' behalf, but Schilling said even he understood.
"David saw what was going on," said Schilling. "David understands the difference between right and wrong, and respect and disrespect. And David would never disrespect a teammate. Even if that teammate disrespected him."
Ramirez has been a model citizen -- and a monster hitter -- in Los Angeles; he entered last night's game with a .401 average in 43 games as a Dodger with 14 home runs and 44 runs-batted in. (His numbers in Boston for 100 games: .299, 20 homers, 68 RBI.) When asked if that angered his former Red Sox teammates, Schilling responded: "Well, I don't know about [mad] . . . I'd say probably disappointed more than anything."
But he had nothing but kind words for the player who replaced Ramirez, Jason Bay.
"I've been a huge fan of Jason Bay since the day he came to the big leagues," he said. "I think he's an extremely good player. I think he's a guy who brings a ton of stuff to the table outside of his bat. He's a 30-home-run guy no matter what anyway, but he plays the game right, he plays the game hard, he loves the game. I guarantee you, he's in love with this city and this environment after playing in Pittsburgh for as long as he did.
"He's a piece of the puzzle going forward instead of a stopgap fill-in 'til the end of year."
Regardless, both Schilling and Merloni agreed the trade of Ramirez was truly addition by subtraction. And Merloni called on another distasteful episode in Red Sox history -- the two-year Boston experience of Carl Everett, who was involved in similar controversies with teammates and management -- as a comparison.
"When all the stuff was going down with Manny, I remember walking in the clubhouse and talking to a couple of guys," said Merloni, who was a teammate of current Sox players Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek on 2000-01 Red Sox along with Everett. "And I said, 'Guys, how bad is it? I know it was bad before, but, really, how bad is it?' And somebody told me: 'Carl Everett.'
"I lived that nightmare. And that's all I had to hear. When I heard that, I said, 'Okay, I know exactly what's going on.' I can't believe it got that bad."
"I didn't play with Carl Everett," said Schilling.
"Lucky you," Merloni responded.