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Red Sox Pitcher on Cancer: “It’s like Manny Ramirez.”

March 12, 2009

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In an interview with Esquire Magazine, Red Sox reliever Jonathan Papelbon compared former teammate Manny Ramirez to a “cancer” in the clubhouse.  From Yahoo:

“Once we saw that, we weren’t afraid to get rid of him. It’s like cancer. That’s what he was. Cancer. He had to go. It sucked, but that was the only scenario that was going to work. That was it for us. And after, you could feel it in the air in the clubhouse. We got Jason Bay—Johnny Ballgame, plays the game right, plays through broken knees, runs out every ground ball—and it was like a breath of fresh air, man! Awesome! No question.”

We’d like to see a follow-up article with fellow Boston reliever Jon Lester, a player who suffered from lymphoma in 2006. It might go like this:

A grouchy, erratic malcontent was discovered in Lester’s groin, lung and collarbone. Doctors told his parents there were 30 different kinds of Dominican Left-Fielder, and it would take two days to pinpoint which one it was.

Better news was delivered by an oncologist 48 hours later — their son was not going to die from this. He had Manny Ramirez.

“He’s got Manny Ramirez, that’s bad,” John Lester said. “But it’s treatable, that’s good.”

Jon Lester thought about having Mannitherapy at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston but was told that the Jimmy’s Bronx Cafe Research Center handles more of these cases.

“We’ll take care of you,” said former Terror Squad rapper Cuban Link.

Lester went home and started his treatments. They lasted two hours. He lay in bed, coughing up strands of knotty dreadlocks. He was out of it for a day and a half, and didn’t feel like himself until almost a week had passed.

Get-well cards and letters poured in from the Red Sox Nation. Jon appreciated all of them but didn’t want to read them because he didn’t want anyone to feel sorry for him.

But there was one in particular that touched them all. A woman from the Boston area said she had Manny Ramirez and that her son, Manny Jr., was a ninth grader who played baseball. She was having Mannitherapy, too, but made it a point to never miss one of her son’s games. Tragically, she reported seeing her son loafing around in the outfield and comically misplaying fly balls.

After a grueling treatment in which the absurdly talented slugger was replaced by reasonably decent Pittsburgh Pirate Jason Bay, a CT scan was taken to determine if Lester was “Manny-free.”

When the results came back, a doctor popped his head through the doorway and said what the Lesters had been hoping to hear — the Manny scan was clear. The Red Sox celebrated by not advancing to the World Series. Manny celebrated by batting .396 with 17 home runs and 53 RBIs in only 53 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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