By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Hanley Ramirez set the tone early when he arrived at Red Sox spring training in Fort Myers wearing a David Ortiz T-shirt. The Red Sox first baseman has made no secrets about his close relationship with the retired former Red Sox DH, who has taught Ramirez a lot about being a DH and becoming a leader.
But apparently, Ortiz didn’t teach Ramirez about keeping their private conversations private.
Speaking to reporters in Fort Myers on Thursday, Ramirez revealed the details of an intriguing recent conversation he had with Ortiz, implying that Big Papi may not be 100 percent sold on his decision to retire from baseball.
“I don’t know if I’m supposed to say this, but [Ortiz] told me the other night – David, I’m sorry man but I’ve got to do it – if he tried to come back, I’m one of the reasons that he might come back,” said Ramirez. “Because we miss each other so much. I know that’s not going to happen.”
Ramirez added a quick “No” when asked if he believes Ortiz’s return is possible. But that didn’t stop the rumor mill from churning some Ortiz speculation. Papi was quick to dismiss any speculation on his return when he caught wind of Ramirez’s comments on Twitter.
Whether or not Ortiz actually comes back, his longtime friendship with Ramirez cannot be understated. Back when Ramirez signed his first new contract with the Marlins, it was Ortiz whom he called to “ask about everything.” Ramirez said the two text each other constantly and have the kind of familial relationship that not many teammates have with each other.
“David’s my big brother that I don’t have,” said Ramirez. “He’s my mentor. He’s my everything.”
As great as Ortiz was on the field, he was also a massive influence in the Red Sox clubhouse. Ramirez doesn’t believe he can possibly match Ortiz’s leadership qualities, because no one can – but is going to attempt to carry that torch.
“I’m going to try [to be more like Ortiz] because if you want to follow somebody, that’s the guy,” said Ramirez. “What he’s been able to do, not just on the field but with his teammates, around the city, everywhere he goes, you want to keep that around.
“He’s teaching me, showing me the way to be a leader and a champion every day.”
Ramirez may not be Ortiz, with his bat or his clubhouse presence. But if he can apply what he’s learned from his mentor to his newfound leadership role, Papi’s guidance over the course of Ramirez’s career has a chance to pay off in a major way.
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.