Manny being ... reformed? Manny Ramirez looks back, forward with new outlook

May 28, 2014 - 8:09 pm

The 2004 World Series champions banner draped over the Green Monster slowly opened and revealed the door into the 37-foot tall outfield wall. As Joe Castiglione announced his name over the Fenway public address system, a joyous Manny Ramirez, sporting a mohawk inspired by his son's haircut, emerged from the wall as he waved to the crowd at Fenway Park. The scene before Wednesday's game mirrored the image of Ramirez emerging from the Monster door in 2005 right before the game resumed after a pitching change. Ramirez says, however, that the man that emerged to the cheering adoration of the Red Sox fans in the pregame ceremony Wednesday is a completely different man from one who was known for his antics -- and challenges -- during his tenure in Boston. "I behaved bad with the organization, with my teammates, but now I realize that and I've got move on," Ramirez reflected. "I cannot be looking in the past. The Bible says that when you come to Christ, you are a new man. He takes your sins and he throws it in the sea and that he is going to clean you, like it's snow. I don't worry about what happened in the past." Ramirez said that he's been attending church for nearly four years with his whole family. During that time, Ramirez says he realized how poorly his behavior with the team reflected upon him. Ramirez said the watershed moment came when he was arrested in 2011 on battery charges following an incident with his wife. The moment changed Ramirez's outlook on life. "They didn't let me see my kids for maybe two or three months, and one day I wake up and I look myself in the mirror and I said I needed a change," Ramirez said. "I started going to Bible studies and saw that it was good. I kept going and God helped me to change my life." David Ortiz has noticed this change in Ramirez. "We've been talking a lot for the past couple of weeks," Ortiz said on Monday. "I'۪۪ll tell you what, he'۪۪s a whole totally different guy. He [goes to] church, he'۪۪s spending time with family, he'۪۪s doing a lot of really good things." A moment that encapsulates Ramirez's erratic off-field behavior while he was a Red Sox was an incident in 2008 when the outfielder shoved traveling secretary Jack McCormick to the clubhouse floor over a dispute involving tickets for a game in Houston. On Wednesday, Ramirez apologized to McCormick for the incident. "I went and spoke to Jack and apologized to Jack," Ramirez said. "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." Ramirez will take his newfound faith and changed perspective on life to his new job in the Cubs organization, where he will be a player-coach. The 41-year-old, however, was not seeking out a job in baseball. Ramirez found out about the opportunity with the Cubs when his agent gave him a call while he was spending time with his kids. Pedro Martinez, Ramirez's teammate from 2001 through 2004, said that Ramirez will bring a lot to the Cubs organization. "Manny is in a perfect position to be an example of what not to do and what to do," Martinez said. "Manny is really smart. Manny knows how to hit and how to teach. I don't know if you've noticed, but David misses Manny a lot around because David learned a lot from Manny. And if Manny is able to relate his knowledge to some of those kids in the minor leagues and also tell them that people have the right to change, to become a better person, that bad shouldn't be done in baseball and in any sport, Manny could be the right messenger for all of those aspects that we are actually talking about." Ramirez, who will play in about two games per week, looks forward to working with a new generation of talent and spreading his knowledge and wisdom about the game. "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," Ramirez said. "It's going to be a blast and we're going to go out and have fun out there." Looking back on his time with the Red Sox, Ramirez does not have any regrets. "I ain't got no regrets because if those things didn't happen, I wouldn't have got to know God," Ramirez said. "I don't regret anything that I did." Now three years removed from his last days on a major league field, Ramirez does not think about his potential candidacy for the Baseball Hall of Fame, where he will be a candidate for induction in 2017. Instead, Ramirez is focusing on telling people his testimony and the effect God has had on his life. "I haven't [thought] about [the Hall of Fame], but I'm leaving that decision to God," Ramirez said. "If it happens, I'm happy, but where I want to be, it's in the Book of Life. The Bible says that you've got to focus on the things you can't see. The things that you can see right now, everything is going to pass, so why are we going to worry about that? My time right now, I'm going to rest on God, keep learning about the will of God, keep preaching, giving people my testimony, and that's going to be my life."