BOSTON -- For just the second time since he was traded minutes before the 2008 trading deadline, Manny Ramirez returned to Fenway Park Wednesday to take part in the 10th anniversary of the 2004 World Series team, and also, to take stock of how things ended for him here.
Sporting a faux-hawk haircut and professing to be born-again, Ramirez acknowledged that he has regrets over his stay in Boston.
"To be honest . . . now that I've been in church for almost for four years now, me and my wife . . . I realize that I behaved bad in Boston," said Ramirez, later adding: "[The] fans, they were great and I played great when I was here, but now I realize that I behaved bad and I apologize for that. But I'm a new man. That's what Jesus said and that's what I believe.
"I behaved bad and I regret it turned out the way it [did] . . . I know a lot of people say, 'Manny didn't like to play, blah blah blah,' but what did my numbers say when I left here?"
Ramirez sought out Red Sox traveling secretary Jack McCormick and apologized for a physical altercation that took place in 2008 when Ramirez requested extra tickets at the last minute and shoved McCormick to the ground when the latter said he was unsure he could provide them.
"I went and spoke to Jack and apologized to Jack,'' said Ramirez. "I told him, 'Jack, I want you to forgive me because it was my fault. I behaved bad here with everybody and I want you to forgive me.' He said, 'Manny, thank you. I was waiting for that.' I feel great.''
He traced his newfound faith to an incident a few years ago, when he was arrested on a domestic assault charge.
"When I went to jail with a problem with my wife,'' explained Ramirez, "they didn't let me see my kids for maybe two or three months. And one day, I [woke] up and I looked myself in the mirror and I said I needed a change. I started going to Bible studies and saw that it was good. I kept going and God helped me to change my life.''
Wednesday was Ramirez' first public appearance since it was announced over the weekend that he'd been hired as a player-coach for the Triple A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.
"I'm looking forward to that,'' said Ramirez. "That's a blessing from God because I could go over there and give those kids my testimony, what to do in the field and what not to do off the field and it's going to be a blast and we're going to go out and have fun out there.''
Ramirez emphasized that the job is more about a chance to work with younger players and less about getting back to the big leagues one more time.
"I got it very clear that I was only going to play two times a week,'' said Ramirez. "They were not going to take any at-bats from the prospects. I know my role over there.''
His former teammates left little doubt that Ramirez has something to offer.
"He's one of the dominant right-handed hitting [hitters] in the last 20-some odd years,'' said Jason Varitek. "Manny can bring a lot because of what he knows about hitting.''
"If there's anyone that's going to teach you hitting,'' said Kevin Youkilis, "who would you rather have than Manny? With the way he swings, his preparation . . . the guy never stops working on his swing, bettering himself. There are going to be some kids who love working with him.''