- Joe McDonald, Reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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BOSTON -- Manny Ramirez spoke. And Manny Ramirez apologized.
For the second time this season, the former Boston Red Sox slugger returned to Fenway Park, this time as a member of the Chicago White Sox. After Friday's game was postponed due to Hurricane Earl, Ramirez hit in the cage, and when he was done, he spoke and admitted he was at fault for the way his Red Sox career ended, forcing the organization to trade him at the deadline in 2008.
"I think everything was my fault," Ramirez said. "But, hey, you've got to be a real man to realize when you do wrong. Hey, it was my fault. I'm already past that stage and I'm happy with my new team."
In the weeks prior to the three-team trade that sent him to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008, Ramirez and Red Sox teammate Kevin Youkilis got into a fight in the dugout at Fenway Park. Ramirez admitted Friday afternoon that he apologized to his former teammate when he was in town during interleague play in June.
"When I went to first base and saw Youkilis, I said, 'Hey, what happened between you and me, I'm sorry. That's my fault.' So it takes a real man just to go and tell a person it was my fault. That's what I did."
It was obvious to the Red Sox organization and his teammates at the time that Ramirez was unhappy in Boston. He became a problem on and off the field, and many of his relationships in the clubhouse soured.
When asked if he would do anything different Ramirez said, "That's in the past. I would have been more relaxed. More patient.
"In life, you pass every stage, and I'm already past that stage. You keep growing, and when you look back you say, 'Oh, I did this wrong.' What is done is done. All you can do is go and play the game and finish your career good."
Ramirez was recently put on waivers by the Dodgers and claimed by the White Sox. When asked if he would have returned to Boston if the Red Sox had claimed him, he said he would have returned to the team and the city he helped win two World Series titles.
"Let me tell you something -- and you guys are going to freak out," he said to a small group of reporters. "I called my kid, right, and I told him, 'Daddy's going to Chicago.' And he told me, 'What? You're going to Chicago? What are you going to do up there?' Then he said, 'You're not going to Boston?'
"I would [have] come and see what I could do for [the Red Sox]. I did it here in the past and it's in the past. If they claimed me, why would I say no to them?"
Ramirez would not speak publicly when he returned to Fenway in June with the Dodgers, but he said Friday afternoon he enjoyed his first trip back to Boston, especially the reaction from his former teammates and fans.
"It was great. That's a great team on the other side. They have a bunch of great guys who like to joke around, but when it's time to play, you go out there and play. It felt great. The first time all the guys came up and said hi to me; it was fun. It was great. I was happy for it."
Ramirez finds himself in the thick of a pennant race with the White Sox, but he's also been paying attention to what the Red Sox have been doing all season. He believes Boston still has a chance to reach the postseason.
"Hey, the sky's the limit, man," he said. "They've got great guys and great pitching. They could do whatever they wanted. I think this year, they weren't staying healthy, the whole group, but they still have a month left. Anything can happen."
Ramirez's contract expires at the end of this season and there's a possibility the 38-year-old will retire.
"Only God knows if I'm going to stop or keep playing," he said.
When he was playing for the Red Sox, he once said he would retire once his contract expired with Boston.
"That's in the past," he said. "You're passing every stage in your life. I'm leaving everything to God and he's going to guide me. He's going to let me know, 'Hey, that's it. It's over.' Only God is going to tell me when to stop. I'm not going to go out and say this is my last year. He hasn't told me that."
He's also excited about his opportunity with the White Sox and thinks he can be a major contributor.
"I would love it, but you've got to be playing every day," he said. "It doesn't matter how good you are. You miss 52 games [with the Dodgers], and everybody is ready, you're playing catch-up. I'm going to go out there and try the best I can."
Because of sore hamstrings and an already potent Chicago outfield, Ramirez will serve as the club's DH, a role he has never been excited about.
"I'm just going to have to wait and see. They've got some really good outfielders and I haven't played, so it's a good move for me to DH and see what I could do," he said. "I'm just going to take it day by day and see how everything goes."
He also said he was happy in L.A.
"I was happy the whole time," he said.
What about Chicago?
"I'm blessed to be in this situation," he said. "I could be in a worse situation. Look where I'm at now. I'm on a team that's trying to be in the playoffs."
Not only was Ramirez talking on Friday, he also had his dreadlocks cut by his personal barber, Angel Pena, nicknamed "Monster99." Ramirez flew Pena to Boston and asked to have exactly 99 (his jersey number) millimeters cut off -- about 4 inches.
"Manny's hair gives him personality," Pena said. "It's Manny being Manny. I think people like seeing Manny and his hair. Imagine Manny with a bald head, that's not fun."
Joe McDonald covers the Red Sox and the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.