FORT MYERS, Fla. -- With the Red Sox conducting their first full-squad workout of Spring Training on Thursday, there continued to be plenty of discussion regarding one player who has yet to report to camp. That, of course, would be left fielder Manny Ramirez, who has been given the team's blessing to arrive on Wednesday, the day before the Dominican Republic is due to submit its final 30-man roster for the World Baseball Classic.
While speculation has been rampant for two days that Ramirez has opted not to play in the Classic, Red Sox owner John W. Henry added some substance to the rumor mill when he spoke to reporters on Thursday.
"We want to support the Baseball Classic. But it's actually a plus for us that he's coming in March 1 and not playing there," Henry said. "But we haven't asked him not to play. But it's actually going to work out very well."
Gene Orza, the chief operating officer of the Major League Baseball Players Association and a key participant in the Classic, said that Ramirez has not officially withdrawn his request to play for the Dominican Republic. But Orza also did not sound optimistic that Ramirez would be playing left field for Dominican Republic manager Manny Acta in the inaugural Classic.
"John Donne might have been wrong that no man is an island. There may have been one or two out there," quipped Orza. "I have not spoken with Manny himself. I'm aware of the circumstances, though, and I've spoken to people who represent him. Coming to camp on March 1 [for the Red Sox] doesn't bode well for Manny's participation, but Manny is eligible to play, and it's up to him. Obviously, the Dominican team would like to have him play, but that's his decision to make. I have not spoken with Manny."
Orza indicated that he is likely to speak with Ramirez before the Dominican Republic submits its final roster.
"I will probably talk to Manny at some point, but I have spoken to his representatives. They know how I feel about the matter," Orza said. "I'm not trying to suggest that Manny's participation in the tournament wouldn't be a great addition. There are a lot of other great players in the tournament, of course, in addition to Manny, which is one of the reasons Manny would probably want to play, with the talent at that level.
"But again, I haven't spoken with Manny himself, and in fact, I think I spoke to one of his representatives as late as [Wednesday] and he hasn't ruled out playing. What he decides is really ultimately going to be up to him, though."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.