Manny had scheduled personal appearance

Manny Ramirez Ramirez

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Manny Ramirez, who received permission from the Red Sox to report late to spring training for family reasons, was scheduled to attend a car auction in New Jersey on Saturday, according to the promoter of the auction.

It wasn't immediately clear if the team was aware of Ramirez's scheduled appearance at the Atlantic City Classic Cars Auction. Boston's first full-squad workout is Thursday. Under the collective bargaining agreement, the deadline for players to report to camp is next Tuesday.

Earlier Wednesday, Boston general manager Theo Epstein said Ramirez has an excused absence and will report on March 1 for the second straight year. On Monday, pitcher Julian Tavarez, Ramirez's close friend, said the slugger's mother recently had surgery and Ramirez was with her in Florida.

But later Wednesday, Ramirez's plans to appear at the car show surfaced in a report posted on The Boston Globe's Web site. It said Ramirez's mother's condition might prevent him from attending -- and
it wasn't known when the appearance was initially scheduled.

But Louise Cunningham, who works for G. Potter King, the Berlin, N.J., car dealer promoting the auction, told The Associated Press that Ramirez was still expected at the event.

"All we know, he's coming at noon on Saturday, nothing else," she said.

Ramirez is a collector of classic cars. His 1967 four-door Lincoln Continental Sedan convertible is listed in Saturday's auction as number 1747A. In parentheses on the auction list is a note: Owned by Manny Ramirez.

Earlier Wednesday, after Boston's other position players underwent physicals and did conditioning runs, Epstein said he had spoken Tuesday with Ramirez's agent, Greg Genske. Epstein also said manager Terry Francona had talked with Genske and Ramirez.

"The communication was actually pretty good," Epstein said. "I think the most important thing is just accountability starting March 1 from then on out."

Epstein made no mention of the car show. Neither Epstein nor Genske returned e-mails seeking comment.

"He's got a family situation," Epstein said. "I think the important thing from our perspective at this point is when he does show up on March 1 that he's ready to go, accountable to his teammates, accountable to the organization."

Francona said Wednesday, "It's a family issue."

Ramirez asked to be traded after the last two seasons and was the subject of trade talks at the July 31 deadline in 2005. He also missed most of the final six weeks last season with what the team called right knee tendinitis. There was speculation he was physically able to play.

The car auction is scheduled for Thursday through Sunday at the Atlantic City Convention Center. It includes a 1,200-car auction, a swap meet, a "muscle car" showcase and an antique sale with cars starting at $50,000 minimum bid.

Ramirez is scheduled to make $18 million this season, the seventh of his eight-year, $160 million contract.

"It's a two-way street," Epstein said. "There's a certain amount of accountability that's expected. That's the way it's going to be going forward."

Ramirez has performed well on the field in his six seasons with the Red Sox, with at least 33 homers and 102 RBIs each year.

"Manny's still crazy," teammate David Ortiz said Wednesday with a big smile. "I'm still babysitting him.

"Things happen, man. It's not something that you can really control. His mom had surgery a while back. I'd be doing the same thing if I still had my mom alive and she got sick. I'd be trying to be with her," Ortiz said.