Red Sox place positive spin on negative result

Offense, Ramirez's injury not yet reason to worry

April 03, 2001|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

They lost their opener with the game's best pitcher starting, had their newly acquired free-agent slugger pull up when he felt a twinge in his ailing leg and failed to produce a clutch hit during two late-inning uprisings that could have won the game.

But the Boston Red Sox were surprisingly upbeat after yesterday's 2-1, 11-inning defeat to the Orioles at Camden Yards.

Manny Ramirez has been bothered most of the spring by a hamstring injury that flared up again in the seventh inning after he was restricted to a single despite hitting a drive off the right-field wall.

Darren Lewis pinch ran for Ramirez, who "just felt something," said Red Sox manager Jimy Williams. "When he made it to first, rather than keep running, we thought it best that he come out."

Ramirez informed first-base coach Tommy Harper of the situation. Harper, in turn, signaled to Williams the player's desire.

The Red Sox will conduct a workout on the day off today, and Ramirez will be in the training room receiving treatment.

"He didn't seem to think it was real severe," said Williams. "Normally, we'd think about going another way [disabled list], but I don't think that's the right thing to do. He'll get this treatment and hit and we'll see how he is tomorrow. There's no reason to panic."

That rally was eventually defused by Pat Hentgen, who pitched as well as Pedro Martinez for a longer period.

However, Martinez, the three-time Cy Young Award winner who set an all-time big-league record for opposing batting average (.167) last season, saluted Hentgen, a one-time Cy himself.

"I tip my hat to him," Martinez said. "I know what Pat is capable of, and he can pitch with you in every single moment of the game. He did a great job. I felt good myself, healthy and threw the ball well for seven innings. They [the Orioles] just battled the whole game."

Martinez allowed only one run -- a home run -- all spring, finishing the exhibition season 3-0 with an 0.47 earned run average. He wasn't overly dominating yesterday, but was plenty good enough. Williams pulled him after seven innings (one run, four hits, 92 pitches).

"I wouldn't have gone higher than 100 pitches regardless of what happened," he said. "And if I'm going to be taken out, I want them to do it when I'm in the dugout unless the situation is really dictating that I need to come out."

Rod Beck relieved to pitch two scoreless innings, but the Orioles got to Derek Lowe in the 11th on Jerry Hairston's third hit and second double and Brady Anderson's game-winning single.

"You're going to have stuff happen," Lowe said. "'It was a broken-bat double and Brady did his job by hitting a ground ball. I wouldn't say it was devastating. There are a lot more games left on the schedule. But just because Pedro pitches is no guarantee that we're going to win."

The odds are certainly with Boston, though. Martinez is 42-11 in three seasons with them and had won the previous three season openers.

As the aggressive Boston media bombarded him with questions about the significance of the team's dropping an opener started by its ace, Martinez was philosophical.

"One game and already giving it up," he said good-naturedly. "This wasn't my last game, and I hope I win one of these soon."

Martinez said he didn't worry when Hairston stole third base to set up the Orioles' first run. "Those things happen," he said. "I have to battle and get hitters out."

The Red Sox will be without the mainspring of their lineup, Nomar Garciaparra, for up to three months because of wrist surgery, but Martinez said the team must carry on.

"Any player like Nomar is going to be missed," he said. "It doesn't mean we have to stop playing. We have to go and compete. I'm not thinking about it. I'm sure we're going to win a lot of games before Nomar comes back."

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