07/09/07 6:34 PM ET
Red Sox All-Stars jet into limelight
Players on baseball's best club ready for Midsummer Classic
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
This, after serving as precious cargo on Red Sox owner John W. Henry's Learjet, which transported a six-pack of Red Sox All-Stars from Detroit to San Francisco on Sunday night.
The Red Sox are the only team in baseball this year to have six representatives at the All-Star Game. And perhaps that explains why they are the only team to have a 10-game lead at the break and why they lead all of Major League Baseball with 53 wins.
"What's really cool is in this whole entire room we've got six Red Sox players basically taking up this whole half of the room," said dominant closer Jonathan Papelbon. "That's really something to say not only about us being here, but about our entire team and about how we're playing well right now. We came off a tough series with the Tigers, but at the same time we had a great first half and we dedicate that to our team. That's why all six of us are here. It's a really cool thing to see."
An affable David Ortiz enjoyed having so much familiar company.
"That's cool," said Ortiz. "It means guys have been doing the right things. That's why we are where we are right now. We have a lot of guys performing the right way."
Big Papi, who has become a fixture at the All-Star Game, was joined on the Red Sox's side of the ballroom by Papelbon, Japanese lefty setup man Hideki Okajima, ace right-hander Josh Beckett and third baseman Mike Lowell.
Where was Manny Ramirez? The poster card was there with Ramirez's name on it and a table was set up for him. But that table remained empty for the entirety of the hour-long media session. However, several witnesses were there to verify that Ramirez did make the trip to San Francisco with his teammates.
"Manny is here. I think he might have checked into the wrong hotel or something, knowing him," quipped Papelbon. "He did come on the flight with us here. After that, I think he got lost."
Ortiz and Ramirez share a brotherly bond, and the former made it his personal responsibility to get the latter on board Henry's jet.
"I'll tell you the truth, I made sure he got to San Francisco," Ortiz said. "After that, I have no control over him. Actually, I had to put him on the airplane."
Ramirez hasn't spoken to the media all season. By now, players have become used to it, and even a little amused by it.
"It's more like, 'Where's Waldo?'" said Papelbon. "This guy shows up or he doesn't. We give him a hard time about it all the time. He just tries to be as private as he can."
The other Red Sox All-Star reps were more than happy to bask in the glow of the festivities.
What was the flight like?
"It was great," said Beckett. "We got to listen to Cinco Ocho [Papelbon] yell at Mike Lowell for beating him in cribbage the whole way, it was great."
The gesture by Henry was typical of the class treatment he has given his players since becoming owner of the team in 2002.
"That was big of John Henry to loan us his Learjet and get us over here, because it would have been [tough] trying to fly out with the Tigers and everything," said Papelbon. "It was big league -- very nice jet."
The Red Sox as a team have been jet-setters. Even with some recent inconsistency, they come to the break in an extremely enviable position.
The All-Stars will try to make the organization look good in Tuesday's spectacle. Monday was about soaking it all in.
"We're proud that we're representing the organization well," said Lowell. "Our record shows that we've had a lot of guys having good first halves. It doesn't come from one guy. It's a true team effort with our guys and I think you see it a lot with the way that we win. It's not just one guy that puts up monster numbers. It could be a different guy each day."
The 78th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage. XM will provide satellite radio play-by-play coverage of the XM All-Star Futures Game.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.