Red Sox fans don't know much about Ramon Ramirez, the flame-thrower acquired from Kansas City in a trade for Coco Crisp. But manager Terry Francona certainly is excited to add him to his bullpen.
The 27-year-old right-handed has a 3.62 ERA in his career, which is even more impressive considering he spent his first two big-league seasons in Colorado. Outside Coors Field, in fact, his ERA is just 2.14; at Coors Field, it was 6.62.
A year ago with the Royals, Ramirez appeared in 71 games and compiled a 2.64 ERA. He struck out 70 and walked 31, though six of those were intentional.
"Strike-thrower," Francona said. "Doesn’t back down. Real tough on righties. Look at his numbers outside of Coors Field the last couple of years, and it’s a really low ERA. They got his lunch a couple of times in Colorado, but other than that, a pretty good ERA."
They got his lunch on Tuesday at City of Palms Park, too -- but there were a few extenuating circumstances.
He surrendered a bunt single to Norris Hopper to open the inning and induced a fly ball from Jacque Jones. So far, no problem. He then had Hopper all but picked off only to see first baseman Lars Anderson wait too long to relay the throw to second base and allow Hopper to dive in safely.
Jay Bruce then lofted a lazy fly ball into foul territory; Paul McAnulty settled under it and appear to make the catch before dropping it on the transfer, trying to get it back to the infield to keep Hopper from going to third. The third-base umpire, however, ruled that McAnulty hadn't caught the ball.
"I'm not going to go out and yell at Randy Marsh on March (3rd)," Francona said wryly after the game. "But I think maybe he did (drop it on the transfer)."
After that, Bruce turned on a pitch and crushed it over the right-field fence. Brandon Phillips followed with a sharp single to center; when he tried to steal second, Jason Varitek threw the ball into center field. Edwin Encarnacion then hit a home run to left field.
"We gave them five outs," Francona said. "He was up with a couple of pitches, and he paid the price. But we didn't convert the popup and we picked a guy off, so we gave them five outs -- and when you leave a couple of balls up, that's not a recipe for having a real good inning. ...
"He's trying to develop arm strength, work on his off-speed. He's competitive. None of them want to give up runs. It's just to get in the flow, getting your feet under you, getting used to throwing in a game."
Postgame entertainment: Francona went over the Drew situation again after the game for the benefit of reporters who hadn't been there the first time. Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy asked one follow-up question and then said, "Just so you know, this is Boston, and there's a tendency to over-react to everything."
"Go ahead," he said. "I'm telling you what happened. I can't change my story. Have a ball with it."
He paused for a moment before continuing: "If it was that big of a deal, we wouldn't have told you guys because nobody asked me. You crack media guys didn't even know he was gone."