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Ramirez not claimed over 48-hour period

BOSTON -- Manny Ramirez was not claimed on waivers before
Friday's deadline, leaving the moody outfielder and his $101.5
million contract with the Boston Red Sox.

Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein and owner John Henry
declined to comment on Ramirez, citing a baseball rule against
discussing whether players were put on waivers.

The only comment available from the team was that there was no
announcement to make, spokesman Kevin Shea said after the 1 p.m.
deadline passed.

If Ramirez had been claimed, that news could have been released
immediately.

"We're looking forward to Manny having another productive year
for the Red Sox in 2004," Shea said.

There is still the chance that the Red Sox could trade Ramirez,
if they are willing to absorb some of his salary.

Calls to Ramirez's agent, Jeff Moorad, were not returned.

There is no doubt that Ramirez is one of the best hitters in
baseball, but his salary -- the second highest in baseball -- scared
away any potential takers when he was placed on irrevocable waivers
on Wednesday.

He led the AL with a .427 on-base percentage and 28 intentional
walks this year -- outstanding numbers for a team that emphasizes a
player's ability to get on base. He also had 37 homers and 104
RBI.

But with five years and $101.5 million remaining on a $160
million, eight-year contract -- he gets an extra $1 million if he
switches teams -- he is too costly for all but a few teams.

Even the New York Yankees, whose payroll of $164 million -- not
including postseason and award bonuses -- is the highest in the
major leagues, wouldn't bite on the contract former Red Sox general
manager Dan Duquette gave Ramirez in the winter of 2000, before the
new collective bargaining agreement helped slow the market.

Clubs often place many of their players on waivers to gauge
other teams' interest and to lay the groundwork for trades, but
most are not claimed and the moves rarely become public knowledge.
Ramirez was placed on irrevocable waivers, meaning they could
withdraw him if he was claimed.

The next waiver period begins Nov, 11 and runs through Feb. 16.

Saddled with Ramirez's contract, the Red Sox will struggle to
keep some of the players scheduled to become free agents after next
season: pitchers Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe, shortstop Nomar
Garciaparra, catcher Jason Varitek and right fielder Trot Nixon.

Other changes are likely for the Red Sox as they try to improve
the fielding and pitching on a team that set a major-league record
with a .491 slugging percentage.

Boston's season ended five outs short of the World Series when
it squandered a 5-2 lead with one out in the bottom of the eighth
of the seventh game of the AL championship series against the
Yankees. New York tied it in that inning and won 6-5 in the 11th.

While Ramirez is an outstanding hitter, he is no better than an
average fielder who lacks hustle on the bases. Amiable off the
field, he sometimes upsets team officials with his behavior.

He was benched by Little late in the 2003 season after he missed
a crucial series against the Yankees with a sore throat and fever,
yet got together with New York infielder Enrique Wilson to
reminisce about their days in Cleveland.

Ramirez spent seven seasons with Cleveland then hit .306, .349
and .325 over the next three years with Boston. He led the AL in
batting in 2002 and was second to teammate Bill Mueller's .326 in
2003. He has 111 homers and 336 RBIs with the Red Sox since former
general manager Dan Duquette signed him.

"This club inherited this contract. Their analysis must
consider something other than his performance on the field," Boras
said. ``When you look at his on-the-field performance, I think he's
performing at a very high level. Obviously, the club must have
other factors in their decision."

Ramirez is scheduled to make $20 million in 2005, $19 million in
2006, $18 million in 2007 and $20 million in 2008. He is owed $5
million of his $16 million signing bonus. The team also holds $20
million options for both 2009 and 2010.