Each year, Major League Baseball officials optimistically set up a media table for Manny Ramirez, along with all of the other American League All-Stars. And like clockwork, Ramirez's table inevitably ends up as the loneliest one in the room.
When the door to Monday's media availability at the Grand Hyatt hotel opened shortly after noon, Ramirez's six All-Star teammates were holding court, but the left fielder's table was empty yet again.
Of Ramirez's eight All-Star seasons with the Red Sox, he has taken part in just one media day. That was 2004.
Because Ramirez has been far more open with the media this season than in his other years with the Red Sox, there was hope that he might hold court. But his whereabouts were a mystery.
Red Sox spokesman John Blake confirmed that Ramirez was in New York, but didn't travel via train with manager Terry Francona, the coaching staff and the six other Boston All-Stars on Sunday night.
Ramirez, however, did take part in batting practice with the AL All-Stars on Monday at Yankee Stadium. But where was the quirky slugger during media availability?
"He's getting his hair braided or something," quipped Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. "He's got some things going on right now. I don't know what's going on, but he'll be there tonight."
Ramirez gave up his spot on the All-Star team in 2003 and '06. After being a reserve in last year's Midsummer Classic, Ramirez reclaimed his starting spot this season.
He will bat fifth, right behind Alex Rodriguez. For someone who grew up just outside the Bronx in a neighborhood called Washington Heights, Ramirez is excited to be playing in the All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium.
Though Ramirez's close friend David Ortiz is injured and won't play in the game, he still held his media availability. In fact, he was stationed right next to Ramirez's vacant table. The left-handed masher laughed hard when a questioner wondered if he tried to get Ramirez to go to the news conference with him.
"I can't believe you're still expecting Manny," Ortiz said. "You know better."
Ramirez is having yet another big season, carrying a .293 average into the All-Star break, along with 18 homers and 60 RBIs. Ramirez hit just 20 home runs last season.
"You saw his human side at the beginning of his last two years where he ran into his first bumps, but he learned about himself and how to get himself back on track," said Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek. "To have that consistency and not run into any lumps until his 10th or 11th year is pretty special."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.