Manny back in BoSox's lineup after sitting 2 games with sore knee


BOSTON -- Manny Ramirez returned to the Red Sox lineup Saturday after missing two games with what he said was a sore right knee.

Boston manager Terry Francona said he spoke with Ramirez after results of MRIs done on both knees Friday "came back fine." Francona said he knew Friday night that the slugging left fielder would start the second game of the series against the New York Yankees.

He didn't say if the team disciplined Ramirez, who was scratched from Francona's original lineup on Friday after the player reported for the game and told bench coach Brad Mills about his right knee.

"When we're talking about disciplinary things, I'm not ever comfortable that they're made public," Francona said Saturday. "How we handle discipline has to remain internal."

Batting cleanup Saturday, Ramirez grounded into a force out at second base that drove in Boston's second run of the game in the first inning. It was the 1,667th RBI of his career, tying Sammy Sosa for 23rd place on the all-time list.

Francona said he didn't want to discuss medical issues.

"He's fine to play," the manager said before the game. "Obviously, we had some conversations last night. One thing leads to another."

In 2005, Ramirez was given two days out of the starting lineup around the trade deadline as his name surfaced in rumors.

In 2006, he played only 11 games in the last six weeks as Boston was falling out of contention. The team said he had right knee tendinitis, but there was speculation he was healthy enough to play.

After each of those seasons, he asked to be traded. Now he is in the final guaranteed year of his eight-year, $160 million contract. The Red Sox have options for each of the next two seasons at $20 million.

"We have run into bumps in the road ever since I've been here," said Francona, in his fifth season as Red Sox manager. "There's been some sometimes before I've been here. The bottom line is two World Series rings."

Asked if Ramirez needs some days off to rest his mind like he had in 2005, Francona said with a laugh, "I think he's done that already."

Ramirez sat out Wednesday's finale of a three-game series at Seattle.

The Red Sox had a day off Thursday then lost 1-0 to the Yankees on Friday night without Ramirez, who has been one of their best hitters recently.

He entered Saturday's game with an 11-game hitting streak during which he batted .487. For the season, he was hitting.301 with 19 homers and 62 RBIs in 95 of Boston's first 104 games.