'He brought laughter and RBIs'

BOSTON -- They allowed Nomar Garciaparra to retire as one of their own and accorded Pedro Martinez a hero’s welcome, inviting him to throw out the ceremonial pitch on Opening Day.

Now, with Manny Ramirez returning for the first time since he was traded almost two years ago, the Red Sox are choosing to overlook another acrimonious parting and focusing on happier days.

At least that’s the position adopted by club owner John W. Henry, who declined to answer what he termed “negative questions” about Ramirez’s time here -- questions about why the Sox explored trades for him as early as 2003, how unhappy Ramirez was when he was here, Ramirez reportedly referring to Henry and the Sox brass as “white devils,” whether, as Ramirez claimed just before he was traded, the team had grown “tired” of him, or whether the club had suspected steroid use before his 50-game suspension last season by Major League Baseball.

Instead, Henry limited his remarks to an effusive evaluation of the nearly eight seasons Ramirez spent in a Red Sox uniform, suggesting that Manny can expect a positive reception from the organization -- any doubts that a video tribute is in the works? -- when he appears here this weekend as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“I don't think it makes sense to answer your negative questions on Manny,’’ Henry wrote in an e-mail. “While Manny was here we won two world championships and he was one of the best players in baseball.

“All of us loved seeing him step to the plate. In fact, we loved just seeing him be the first out of the dugout to begin each game. He brought laughter and RBIs.

“We've never had a harder worker or a more entertaining player. He was a star who provided great, great moments on an almost regular basis.

“Welcome back, Manny, if only for a weekend...’’