David Ortiz is glad friend Manny Ramirez is with him in Houston. (Ben Platt/MLB.com)
HOUSTON -- They locker next to each other at home and the road. They hit side-by-side in the lineup, creating one of the most power-packed 3-4 combinations in all of baseball. And it doesn't stop there. Look at David Ortiz, and Manny Ramirez usually isn't more than a few feet away.
So there they were on Monday, sitting at neighboring press tables during All-Star Media Day. This is Ortiz's first All-Star appearance. For Ramirez, it was No. 8.
The joy that both RBI machines have when they are in each other's company is obvious. Therefore, making the team together made this trip to Houston more enjoyable for the meat of the Red Sox batting order.
"Definitely," said Ortiz. "To have my partner, to have my homeboy, my backup, my everything, right next to me. It's like being in the house with your family. It's like hanging out with your brother. This guy is unbelievable. He's always ready to help you. He always has a smile for you, he tries to loosen you up, that's all you need to be a better player."
It's hard to say Ortiz has made Ramirez a better player. After all, he has been feasting on American League pitching at jaw-dropping rates for over a decade now. But having Ortiz as a teammate certainly seems to have made Ramirez a happier person.
"It's unbelievable to have David next to you, he's such a great guy," said Ramirez, who is hitting .344 with 26 homers and 77 RBIs. "We're always laughing and having fun. I see him every day. Look at him."
Ramirez gestured over at Ortiz, who was at his stylish best. While most of the players were dressed casually, Ortiz was wearing a snazzy grey suit, topped by a vest. He was wearing Channel sunglasses and soaking in the moment.
Ortiz wasn't trying to show up his counterparts with the attire. His suitcase got left in Boston, mixed in with the luggage that the team is sending to Anaheim for the series after the All-Star break. He had to go with what was in his garment bag, which is originally what Ortiz planned to wear during Monday night's All-Star gala.
"My boys have been giving me such a hard time, but there's nothing you can do," said Ortiz. "It's better to wear some clothes than to be naked. My suitcase with all my regular clothes, they're still in Boston. They're supposed to be here tonight. The look I was supposed to have tonight, I wore during the day, so I don't know, I might have to hide in my room tonight."
David Ortiz / DH
Weight: 230 lbs
Bats: L / Throws: L
There's probably zero chance of that. Ortiz (.304, 23 HRs, 78 RBIs) was acting like a man who intended to savor every ounce of his first All-Star experience.
"He should be," said Sox right-hander Curt Schilling, who is Boston's third All-Star. "It was fun last night flying out here. We flew out together. He's excited. I'm excited for him. He's going to enjoy it. David is never going to be a guy who says, 'it doesn't matter to me if I go'."
Ramirez, who will start Tuesday's All-Star Game in left field and hit cleanup despite missing Sunday's game with two tight hamstrings, also relishes being with the rest of the elite players in the game.
"I feel great, especially when you've got your kids here with you," Ramirez said. "That's one thing they're always going to remember about you, 'My daddy went to the All-Star Game.' They're going to be so proud. I'm just glad that all my fans voted for me and I'm just glad to be here."
In past years, Ramirez often shied away from the media portion of All-Star games. But just as he's been far more open with the Boston media then ever before, he took that act to a national stage on Monday.
"I always enjoy myself," Ramirez said. "This time I want to talk a little bit more to the press because I want them to get to know me and see what kind of person I am."
What kind of advice did Ramirez give Ortiz?
"This is all about having fun," Ramirez said. "This is not about getting pressure on yourself. Just go and have fun. Go and get one or two at-bats. It's about meeting new guys and getting to know everybody. Yeah, man, me and David are going to go have fun. I'm going to be pulling for him in the Home Run Derby."
In fact, Ramirez gave up his invitation to the Home Run Derby to make sure Ortiz was in it.
"Manny is not a guy that hits it out in batting practice trying to jack some balls," said Ortiz. "Manny, he works on his swing pretty much and saves the power for the game."
As for Ortiz, he will let it fly, not just in the Derby, but in the game. He was asked if there was any National League pitcher he was looking forward to facing.
"Randy Johnson. I'm just kidding, dude. I don't know, you never get picky especially in this situation when you have all the best out there," said Ortiz.
For the first time in his career, Ortiz can call himself one of the best of the best. And he will have his usual partner in crime riding shotgun.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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