EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Sports

February 22, 2007

Tavarez a mystery no more

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Minutes before Julian Tavarez sat in front of his locker yesterday afternoon, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein and manager Terry Francona echoed what the relief pitcher had told the masses two days before - Manny Ramirez wasn't coming until March 1.



The message wasn't a surprise. What came out of it was.



"You guys don't know me and you don't know Manny," Tavarez said to this lone reporter, reiterating his thoughts from a few days before. "I have a family, I have brothers, I have a sister, I have parents, I have cousins ..."



He had a point.



We attempt to know players like Ramirez and Tavarez, but often times fall short. Just a day before another teammate, Mike Lowell, was talking about Ramirez and how perception seems to fall short when understanding his work ethic. And for some, the image of Tavarez is still creeping out of the well-documented list of on-field explosions that has littered his career.



Getting to know Ramirez like Tavarez ("He's one of my best friends," said the reliever) might not be possible. Other than holding a press conference upon his arrival, Manny probably won't talk to the media the rest of the season, and even his teammates have admitted to having a hard time grasping the slugger's persona.



Tavarez was another story. That's why yesterday afternoon, after most had left the Red Sox minor league training facility, the 33-year-old was willing to offer the insight he insisted two days earlier was sorely lacking.



Who was Julian Tavarez? After listening, it is easy to see why he was fairly positive nobody truly knew his story.



In the Red Sox media guide one of the few biographic pieces of information related to Tavarez was that he attended Santiago public schools in the Dominican Republic. That, he said, isn't accurate.



"I never went to school, not once," he said. "I had to work to earn money for my family." Three dollars a week, to be exact, doing all kinds of odd jobs. It was just good enough to survive, and allow for his prideful exclamation, "I have never stolen anything, not once!"



He comes from one of the poorest parts of the Dominican Republic, a place he said is called "The Dark Hole." Both of his parents worked, with his father spending all week but Saturday two hours away doing construction. And when his dad did arrive back home, Julian was often gone playing baseball.



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