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Ramirez benched until trade deadline passes

Jimmy Golen Associated Press

BOSTON – Boston Red Sox outfielder Manny Ramirez got the night off to clear his head while the team attempts to trade him and shed his salary. He will also miss today’s game, manager Terry Francona said, meaning the World Series Most Valuable Player wouldn’t take the field again until after the trading deadline passes.

“I think it’s not just in our best interest, but in our ballclub’s best interest, that he sit, clear his head, take a few deep breaths,” Francona said after the Red Sox beat Minnesota 6-2 without Ramirez on Saturday night. “I think he was very receptive to it.”

Ramirez was in the dugout during the ninth inning and he came out for the postgame handshake, laughing and high-fiving and hugging his teammates. The crowd, which reacted to his annual trade request by booing him on Friday night, began a brief chant of “Manny!”

“That was neat,” first baseman Kevin Millar said. “He’s a big part of this team. They know that. The fans love Manny, and he loves them, too.”

Ramirez was not available in the clubhouse either before or after the game.

The enigmatic slugger helped Boston win its first World Series in 86 years last season and he leads the majors with 92 runs batted in this year, but the team has repeatedly tried to unload the eight-year, $160 million contract he signed after the 2000 season. They tried to trade him for Alex Rodriguez last year.

Most recently, Ramirez has been at the center of talks regarding a three-team deal with the New York Mets and Tampa Bay Devil Rays. An official involved in the talks said the teams were still far apart.

Mets outfielder Mike Cameron said before New York’s game against Houston that he was upset by talk that he could be included in a trade for Ramirez; he went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts and declined comment after the Astros won 2-0. The Mets would also include outfielder Lastings Milledge, the 12th overall pick in the 2003 amateur draft.

Devil Rays general manager Chuck LaMar said he expected talks could continue until today’s 1 p.m. (PDT) deadline for trades without waivers.

“We have had discussions with both teams, not only in a combined deal, but separate deals with each one of those teams,” he said in Tampa Bay. “It’s hard enough to make a real good trade (with two teams). When you start adding a third team, there are a lot of logistics.”

The Red Sox did complete one deal, getting outfielder Jose Cruz Jr. and cash from the Arizona Diamondbacks for minor league infielder Kenny Perez and right-handed prospect Kyle Bono.

After saying he didn’t want to talk about the deal, Cameron volunteered that he didn’t sleep much Friday night because he’d received “calls all day and night long” – and that he didn’t like being the subject of rumors.

“I can’t even take it,” he said before the Mets played at Houston. “I thought I can handle it. I can’t.”

Cameron has been traded twice before, from the Chicago White Sox to Cincinnati in 1998 and from the Reds to Seattle in 2000 for Ken Griffey Jr. However, both deals were made in the off-season.

Cameron has been linked to many other trades that never happened, which is why Mets manager Willie Randolph said he wouldn’t discuss the matter with his right fielder.

Cameron was in the starting lineup, batting third, Saturday night against Houston.

“I trust Cammy,” Randolph said. “He’s been through this before. Didn’t we go through this in spring training? I think he’s mature enough to understand the business and the way it is.”

In other trade talk:

•The Chicago White Sox were talking to the Devil Rays about closer Danys Baez and outfielder Aubrey Huff, who were involved in discussions in the three-team trade.

•The New York Yankees were talking with San Francisco about reliever Scott Eyre. New York also signed left-hander Alan Embree, released by Boston a day earlier.

•Minnesota also was said by an official with another team to have inquired about Texas second baseman Alfonso Soriano.

•Houston general manager Tim Purpura said his team had a trade in place for a veteran pitcher, but the pitcher, whom he didn’t identify, rejected it using his rights as a 10-year veteran who had been with his team for five years. It is possible the pitcher involved was Seattle’s Jamie Moyer.

•Friday’s trade that sent Phil Nevin from San Diego to Texas for pitcher Chan Ho Park was approved by the commissioner’s office and finalized. The Padres also got $6 million from Texas.

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