Manny sets sights on 600
Sox slugger says reaching homer milestone no sweat
TOKYO -- Thousands of miles from home, Red Sox left fielder Manny Ramirez unveiled a new goal to several reporters gathered at his locker at Tokyo Dome on Saturday morning.
"I'm going to get to 600 [homers]," Ramirez said. "Why not? The sky's the limit. There's no limit."
Going into the 2008 season, which officially begins on Tuesday against the Oakland Athletics at Tokyo Dome, Ramirez is 10 away from 500.
But he has no problem looking toward the number that, in history, has only been reached by Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa.
"I'm going to play six more years and there's no doubt I can do it," said Ramirez of topping the 600 mark.
Yes, Ramirez is now on a six-year plan after this season. That would have the star slugger playing until 2014. The Red Sox hold option years on him for the next two seasons.
"I know what [lies] ahead," Ramirez said. "I'm going to get two more years here, and then I'm going to get four years, so it's going to be six years. I'm going to finish my career here [in Boston]."
The case can be made that Ramirez has never been happier. The man who once refused to do interviews now all but invites reporters to spend time with him.
Ramirez knows that life has been good to him, so why shouldn't he enjoy it?
"I'm happy. I'm ready to play," said Ramirez. "I've prepared myself good to play the game. I'm going to go have fun, play the game and that's it."
Sure, the right-handed hitting machine turns 36 in May. But as far as Ramirez is concerned, you might as well rewind that about 10 years.
"I feel like a baby now," said Ramirez.
Ramirez feels as positive about the 2008 Red Sox as he does about himself.
"Like I told you, sky's the limit," he said. "There's nothing impossible in life. If everybody in this room gets the same thoughts and we're thinking right. We have the same group of guys that won last year so there's no doubt that we can do it again. Nothing is impossible."
Back in Japan for the first time since an MLB all-star tour in 2004, Ramirez is enjoying the experience.
"It's great," said Ramirez. "A bunch of people, they don't get to see us all the time, they're going to get to see us here in person. They're going to love it. They're going to enjoy it."
As for Ramirez, there doesn't seem to be anything he isn't enjoying these days.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.