BOSTON — David Ortiz sat in the Red Sox dugout before his turn at batting practice. He wasn't in a talking mood.
A few people tried small talk, about his love Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers — he played in Green Bay as a 19-year-old in the Minnesota Twins farm system — and his overall health.
He wasn't in the mood.
It was a far cry from the rest of the scene around Fenway Park.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona, for one, appeared to have a little bounce to his step, for obvious reasons: Manny Ramirez is gone.
Francona, more than anyone in the organization, had to put on a good face when Ramirez, a future Hall of Famer, did something unusual. And we all know that fake smiles usually lead to headaches.
Ortiz, though, wasn't his usual jovial self.
Ortiz isn't with the "Manny-is-gone-hip-hip-hooray" program just yet. He, more than anyone, benefitted from Ramirez's presence.
"I wasn't happy," said Ortiz, referring to his demeanor when the trade was announced late Thursday afternoon. "I am going to miss him, of course. We have been through a lot together."
Their numbers are their numbers.
Ortiz and Ramirez made up probably the best third-fourth combo of the last six seasons, combining for 422 homers and 1,325 RBI since Ortiz was acquired from the Twins before the 2003 season.
Every April 1 you pretty much could write in 35 homers and 125 RBIs ... for both of them ... and you wouldn't be off by much.
The fact that Ortiz and Ramirez are natives of the Dominican Republic played into their brotherhood. Outside of the Dominican national team, there was a time when Ortiz, Ramirez and Pedro Martinez made up the best group of Dominicans ever assembled on the same team.
Pedro's exodus was controversial, but it had to happen. It was getting ugly with the Red Sox brass, which questioned his health and future contributions.
The same ugliness could be said for Ramirez. The difference is the defection directly affects Ortiz.
Remember the "Choose your poison" comments from Angels manager Mike Scioscia after Ramirez's walk-off homer in Game 2 of the American League Division Series? After the big hit, he was asked about intentionally walking Ortiz to get to Ramirez.
There are some very good hitters, heck All-Star hitters, on the Red Sox, including Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, J.D. Drew and Mike Lowell. But let's be honest, only Ortiz defines "poison."
One can understand Ortiz's trepidation with embracing the short-term euphoria.
If Ramirez's replacement in left field, ex-Pirate Jason Bay, whether he bats fourth or fifth (last night he hit fifth), performs as expected, then the happy-go-lucky guy nicknamed "Big Papi" should be back in short order.
If the above doesn't happen, well, let's not go there just yet.
"In this business," summarized Ortiz. "You have to do what you can."
Ortiz's summary wasn't too convincing. For now, it will have to do.
E-mail Bill Burt at firstname.lastname@example.org.