President Bush jokes around with Red Sox at White House

President Bush threw a couple of changeups at the Boston Red Sox while honoring the World Series champions at the White House on Wednesday.

"I love the fact that you've got some of the game's biggest stars," the President said. "I mean, 'Big Papi,' the guy lights up the screen. He brings a great personality.

"I'm sorry his running mate, Manny Ramirez, isn't here. I guess his grandmother died again," he said to laughter. "Just kidding. Tell Manny I didn't mean it. But I do want to quote him. He said, 'When you don't feel good, and you still get hits, that's when you know you're a bad man.' I don't know what that means. But if bad man means good hitter, he's a really bad man, because he was clutch in the World Series and clutch in the playoffs."

In a casual speech that drew Massachusetts Senators Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, Rep. William Delahunt of Quincy, Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and even Vice President Dick Cheney, Bush congratulated the players and organization for beating the Colorado Rockies in last year's Fall Classic.

Turning to humor again, Bush said. "And how about Jonathan Papelbon? The guy pitches almost as well as he dances. And I appreciate the dress code. Thanks for wearing pants."

But the President did show a more serious side when talking about Jon Lester's battle with cancer.

"I appreciate the fact the team has overcome adversity," he said. "All of America, whether you're a Red Sox fan or not, was moved by the Jon Lester story. Jon had a decisive victory over cancer, and in the World Series. And it was an inspiration to a lot of folks who were looking at this good man to determine whether they, themselves, could overcome adversity. And so, Jon, we want to thank you and congratulate you."

After shaking hands with each of the players, Red Sox captain Jason Varitek presented the President with a Red Sox jersey with "Bush" and the No. 07 on the back.