The weekend in Boston began with a hurricane bearing down on New England, but the weak-hitting Earl couldn’t hold a candle to Manny Ramirez.

Once again, Manny stole the show, returning to Fenway with a White Sox team that is bearing down on the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins and has the game’s best record since June 9.

Manny’s new team is expecting him to provide a little protection for slugger Paul Konerko.

So far, he has helped, going 7 for 16 since joining Chicago. The White Sox won their first six games since his arrival.

What we weren’t expecting was an apology. Yet that’s exactly what the Red Sox got from their former left fielder when Manny did a rare English-speaking interview with a small group of reporters in Boston Friday afternoon.

“I think everything was my fault,” Ramirez told the group, “but hey, you’ve got to be a real man to realize when you do wrong. Hey, it was my fault, right? But I’m already past that stage. I’m with a new team. I’m happy. When I saw (Kevin) Youkilis, I said, ‘Hey, what happened between you and me, I’m sorry. That’s my fault.’

“So, it takes a real man just to go and tell a person it was my fault. That’s what I did.”

Seeing Manny in a White Sox uniform was strange enough, but seeing a contrite Manny was downright shocking. Earlier in the summer he told NESN Daily host Uri Berenguer that he regretted his actions in Boston, but those comments weren’t on tape. Seeing him make those comments Friday gave us all a reason to stop and rethink our position on Manny.

Or do we? Manny is getting ready to hit the open market, and he knows he needs to prove himself on and off the field if he hopes to land a big contract. The off-field rehab promises to be the biggest challenge facing the man who is 14th on baseball’s all-time home run list.

A mea culpa is a good way to begin that image reconstruction. And, with Scott Boras as an agent, there’s no doubt that Manny has plenty of people willing to tell him what to do and say.

We’ll never truly know if Manny is sincere in his apology, but it seems a little out of character for him to do a sudden turnaround. The folks in L.A. may be more than willing to forgive and forget, but here in Boston we lived through the dugout fight with Youkilis, the periodic hamstring injuries, the pushing around of a traveling secretary 20 years his senior, and the reported use of performance enhancing drugs. We watched as he watched three pitches go by in a key at-bat against the Yankees.

So he’ll have to forgive us if we’re a little more skeptical about his act of contrition. It just seems the timing of his change of heart seems to coincide a bit too conveniently with his pending free agency.

Ultimately, what Manny does with his bat will have much more impact than anything he says. It always has. After the Red Sox traded him to the Dodgers in 2008 he hit .396 for his new club, drove in a run per game, hit a homer about every third game and led his team to the postseason.

That helped him earn a contract worth some $15 million for the next season. Then, of course, his act started to wear thin, and Joe Torre ultimately saw this imposing hitter leave town with nothing coming back in return.

And, now, Manny is trying to play his way into another big-money deal. He’s also trying to talk his way into it. Which is why he needs you – and baseball executives – to believe he is truly sorry for his mistakes.

 

Tom Caron is the studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on the New England Sports Network. His column appears in the Press Herald on Tuesdays.