FORT MYERS, Fla. — Not a day passes that David Ortiz is not a presence in the life of Hanley Ramirez.

It was Ortiz who Ramirez called first when he signed his first big contract, a $70 million extension with the Florida Marlins in 2008. It was Ortiz whose silhouette adorned the T-shirt Ramirez wore as he walked into the JetBlue Park clubhouse for the first time Thursday morning. It was Ortiz whose locker Ramirez inherited in that clubhouse. It was Ortiz who Ramirez said fills his phone with text messages checking on him, encouraging him.

Much of what Ramirez said in his first session with reporters upon arrival at JetBlue Park consisted of an outpouring of love for the departed Ortiz.

“He’s still my man,” Ramirez said. “I’m still waiting for him to walk into that clubhouse with that big smile, hugging everybody. He’s always happy and he makes everybody around him happy.

“He’s my everything.”

It was Ortiz, too, who warned Ramirez that it’s not as easy as it looks to be a full-time designated hitter. Manager John Farrell estimated this week that Ramirez will be the designated hitter in 60 to 70 percent of the games, including against every right-handed pitcher.

The Red Sox signed Ramirez two seasons ago in part to have a middle-of-the-order hitter to succeed Ortiz in the designated-hitter role when Ortiz inevitably retired. By reputation an indifferent defender, Ramirez seemed to look forward to the chance to put his glove in storage and assume that role.

But Ortiz, always the mentor, has made sure Ramirez understands that the designated-hitter role is more than just a chance to kick back and relax.

“Some days you’re going to get crazy,” Ortiz told Ramirez. “All you can do is hit. When things are not going good, what can you do?”

When healthy, Ramirez has hit – and hit plenty. The former Red Sox prospect turned $88 million free-agent signing bounced back from an injury-marred first season in Boston to hit 30 home runs in his second. His .495 career slugging percentage ranks him among the top 20 among active players, ahead of the likes of Jose Bautista, Carlos Beltran and Adrian Gonzalez. He took to first base far more readily than he had to left field the previous season.

It’s Ramirez, more than new first baseman Mitch Moreland, who will be tasked with replicating as much as possible what Ortiz produced in the middle of the Red Sox batting order.

Fortunately for Ramirez, he’ll still have Ortiz in his corner – if not in the clubhouse.

A smiling Ramirez said Ortiz told him he might miss him too much to stay retired – something Ortiz confirmed on Twitter. When asked if he was just keeping the DH spot warm for Ortiz, Ramirez quipped, “Yeah, definitely, and then I’ll go back to left field.”

But he then turned serious, and spoke loudly and emphatically into the gathered cameras to try to quell whatever rumors he might have started.

“David is not coming back,” he said. “He’s home with his family, all right? You got that, Sox Nation? We’re going to have to do it.”

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