ATLANTA — David Ortiz heard Monday that controversial former teammate Manny Ramirez was hired as a Triple A player/coach by the Chicago Cubs. He believes it’s a good idea.
Ramirez, who turns 42 Friday, once starred in the middle of the Red Sox lineup with Ortiz. But he forced a trade from team in 2008 by essentially quitting on his teammates, an act that enraged team executives. Ramirez later was suspended twice for using performance-enhancing drugs.
But Ortiz believes Ramirez has changed and will make a good mentor.
“It’s a different guy. He’s been doing different things for the past couple of years,” Ortiz said after an 8-6 victory against the Braves. “I’ve been talking to him a lot on the phone and sometimes I get confused because I don’t know if I’m talking to him or not. This is legit.”
Even during their time together in Boston, Ortiz and Ramirez were not as close as was sometimes portrayed. But Ortiz has kept in touch with Ramirez over the years.
“I really like the fact that he’s doing things. He should have been doing those things for a long time, especially being the person he was. But you know we’re human. Everybody’s different,” Ortiz said. “I’m glad he’s looking out for his kids and family and trying to get things better.”
Ramirez accepted an invitation to attend a reunion of the 2004 World Series champion Red Sox at Fenway Park Wednesday. The new position with the Cubs could change that.
Cubs president Theo Epstein, the former Red Sox general manager who traded Ramirez to the Dodgers, has told reporters in Chicago that the move is not a publicity stunt. Epstein believes Ramirez has something to offer young hitters.
Ryan Lavarnway was called up from Triple A Pawtucket and grounded out as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning. The Sox wanted an extra righthanded hitter for the two games under National League rules and optioned righthander Alex Wilson back to Pawtucket.
Lavarnway arrived sporting a semi-handlebar mustache better suited for a Civil War soldier. He was hitting .265 with only two home runs and 11 RBIs in 44 games for Pawtucket. The catcher is primarily a first baseman with occasional games behind the plate.
Lavarnway hit 32 home runs in the minors in 2011 and two for the Red Sox. He has hit only 13 in three minor league seasons since. But Lavarnway feels that will turn.
“I’m excited about some changes I’ve made,” Lavarnway said, mentioning work he has done with organizational hitting coordinator Tim Hyers. “I know what’s changed and what I have to get back to. I’m excited about it.”
The Red Sox could make another roster move Tuesday after using six relievers in the first game of the series.
“We’ve got some things to discuss,” manager John Farrell said.
Miller gets a break
Andrew Miller took four losses during the team’s 10-game losing streak, one on his own throwing error Saturday.
But he caught a break in the eighth inning Monday after Jason Heyward drove a pitch to the gap in left. Heyward appeared to have an easy double but Jackie Bradley Jr. cut the ball off and made a strong throw to second. Heyward had to slide, went over the bag, and Dustin Pedroia tagged him out.
“One of those that, if you’re keeping score, goes back on Miller’s side,” Farrell said.
Miller, who shaved all his facial hair after the game Saturday, joked that he might have shaved his head or eyebrows had he taken another loss. Miller struck out the next two batters after the play by Bradley.
Bradley also made a running catch to take extra bases away from B.J. Upton in the first inning.
Drew to Pawtucket
Stephen Drew was the designated hitter for Single A Greenville Monday night. He went 1 for 3 with a two-run double and a walk against Charleston.
Drew will travel Tuesday and join Pawtucket Wednesday to continue building up to rejoining the Red Sox. Drew is eligible to be called up June 2.
A.J. Pierzynski has hit in six straight games, going 10 of 27 (.370) with four RBIs. His 24 RBIs are second on the team to Ortiz’s 29 . . . The teams wore special uniforms for Memorial Day that featured digital camouflage numbers and logos. Their caps had the same look . . . Jon Lester, who starts for the Red Sox Tuesday, is 0 for 31 as a hitter. He has the most career at-bats without a hit among active players . . . Righthander Steven Wright, on the 60-day disabled list recovering from offseason hernia surgery, started a rehabilitation assignment by pitching five innings for Double A Portland. He allowed two earned runs . . . The Red Sox promoted first baseman Travis Shaw to Pawtucket to take Lavarnway’s spot. Shaw was hitting .305 with 11 home runs for Portland . . . Farrell sent some text messages to former Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett to congratulate him for throwing a no-hitter for the Dodgers Sunday. Farrell was Beckett’s pitching coach from 2007-10 . . . Ortiz played all nine innings at first base, his first action in the field since Game 5 of the World Series.Peter Abraham can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.