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Monday’s Morning Mashup: Manny Ramirez wins over teammates, fans with Triple-A team 07.22.13 at 8:05 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Rays at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Yankees at Rangers, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA Summer League: Las Vegas championship, Warriors vs. Suns, 9 p.m. (NBA TV)


‘™¦ Manny Ramirez is hitting just .227 with three home runs in 12 games since joining the Triple-A Round Rock (Texas) Express, but the 41-year-old former Red Sox slugger is winning over teammates and fans during his stint with the Rangers’ minor league affiliate.

“The first day he came in here and said anything we want to do, just tell him,” Round Rock manager Bobby Jones told The New York Times. ‘€œI guess he had some things Texas talked to him about: his hair, his uniform was loose-fitting, it had to be right. So he comes in: ‘Does my uniform look O.K.?’ I said it looks fine to me. ‘How about my hair?’ I said it looks fine to me.

“He comes in a couple days later and I guess he had the dreadlocks out. Nolan was sitting here and he comes walking by and he asks Nolan, ‘Do you like my hair?’ And Nolan says, ‘No, I don’€™t like it at all.’ So the next day he comes in and his head was shaved.”

Added pitcher Jake Brigham: “He’€™s an incredible person. From the minute he walked in here, he was accessible. He was coming up and putting his arm around you, and he didn’€™t even know your name. Every day, he’€™s high-fiving you, excited to be here, excited to get to work.”

Ramirez, twice suspended for violating MLB’s performance-enhancing drug policy, started the season in Taiwan, hitting .352 with eight home runs before heading back to the States for another shot at the majors — and a more comfortable life.

“He was saying they had to wash their own uniforms,” Jones said of Ramirez’s three months with the EDA Rhinos of the Chinese Professional Baseball League. “It was miserable. At least here, he doesn’t have to wash his own uniform.”

‘™¦ Mark Sanchez has expressed confidence that he will be the starting quarterback for the Jets when they open the season against the Buccaneers, but rookie Geno Smith isn’t giving in.

“I feel like I have a great shot,” Smith told the Charleston (W. Va.) Gazette. “I did a pretty good job overall of just adapting to the [Jets’] system and playbook and felt very comfortable with it by the end of OTAs and mandatory [minicamp].”

Smith said he thinks his steady improvement since leaving West Virginia gives him a chance to unseat Sanchez, who struggled with inconsistency and turnovers and was benched last season.

“I have a goal in mind and I’m really going to go after that,” said Smith, who fell to the second round in April’s draft. “I want to be the best. It’s going to take time and effort, and that’s what I’m willing to put in. Once I step on the field, it’s about business. I’m really appreciative to have made it to this level, but there’s a lot more for me out there, and I’m going to try and strive for it.”

‘™¦ The hits keep coming for the University of Florida football team. The program has been painted in a negative light since the arrest of Aaron Hernandez and the revelation that he was involved in an incident that ended with two men being shot while Hernandez was a Florida freshman. On Sunday morning, Gators linebacker Antonio Morrison was arrested for the second time in five weeks and was suspended by the team for at least the first two games of the season.

Morrison, who was arrested June 16 for allegedly punching a bouncer, was out walking with friends early Sunday morning when they came upon a police car and Morrison barked at the K-9 dog inside (Morrison claims the dog barked at him first and he was merely responding). Police said Morrison then resisted attempts to handcuff him.

“I’m extremely disappointed in Antonio Morrison’s decision-making,” Florida coach Will Muschamp said in a statement.

Morrison, a sophomore from Bolingbrook, Ill., was released on his own recognizance.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On July 22, 2004, which minor league call-up became the only left-hander to start a game for the Red Sox all season?

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Read More: Antonio Morrison, Geno Smith, Manny Ramirez, Mark Sanchez
LEEInks List: Top 10 Red Sox All-Star moments since 2000 07.16.13 at 9:46 am ET
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Baseball’€™s biggest names and top talent ‘€” including David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and Clay Buchholz ‘€” are descending upon The Big Apple in preparation for the 84th annual MLB All-Star Game at Citi Field. As your own prep for the exhibition that counts, take a walk down memory lane with a look at the top 10 Red Sox All-Star moments since 2000.

10. 2002: Johnny Damon voted in as 30th man

In his first season as a Red Sox, Damon was elected as the “The All-Star 30th man,’€ the inaugural version of what has become the ‘€œFinal Vote,’€ for his first of two All-Star appearances. Damon, who joined Manny Ramirez to land two-thirds of the Sox outfield in the Midsummer Classic, started a four-run, seventh-inning rally when he singled and stole second before scoring.

9. 2007: Hideki Okajima gets in on Final Vote

The Red Sox brought in two Japanese pitchers prior to the 2007 season, but only one of them was an All-Star. Okajima, a left-handed reliever known in part for his unorthodox delivery that featured him looking away from home plate, beat out Roy Halladay and three other pitchers in that year’€™s Final Vote to join fellow Sox hurlers Josh Beckett and Jonathan Papelbon.

8. 2006: With all-Red Sox/Yankees infield, AL wins again

With Yankees Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter starting on the left side of the infield, Ortiz was voted the AL’€™s first baseman (the game was played under NL rules at PNC Park in Pittsburgh) and Mark Loretta, in his only season as a Red Sox, played second. Jeter, Ortiz and Rodriguez were 2-3-4 in the batting order, but the foursome went hitless.

In the fifth, Loretta gave way to the Rangers’€™ Michael Young, whose two-run triple in the top of the ninth was enough to earn him MVP honors and give the AL a 3-2 win.

7. 2005: Four Red Sox voted in as starters

A year after winning the World Series, four Red Sox ‘€” Jason Varitek, Manny Ramirez, Ortiz and Damon ‘€” were selected by fans to be starters for the AL squad managed by Terry Francona. (Right-hander Matt Clement also made the team after a 10-win first half.)

The Red Sox crew went a combined 4-for-8 with two runs scored, an RBI and a walk. Ortiz drove in Damon with a line-drive single to right in the third as the AL won, again, 7-5.

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Read More: David Ortiz, Derek Lowe, hanley ramirez, jason varitek
Monday’s Morning Mashup: Manny Ramirez singles in first at-bat in minors 07.08.13 at 7:53 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Red Sox at Mariners, 10:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Nationals at Phillies, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA Summer League: Thunder vs. Magic, 11 a.m. (NBA)
NBA Summer League: 76ers vs. Pacers, 1 p.m. (NBA)
NBA Summer League: Celtics vs. Pistons, 3 p.m. (NBA)
NBA Summer League: Nets vs. Heat, 5 p.m. (NBA)


‘™¦ Manny Ramirez singled on the first pitch he saw and went 1-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout in his debut for the Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate in Round Rock, Texas, on Sunday night.

The 41-year-old Ramirez, who is trying to return to the majors after retiring on controversial terms early in the 2011 season, batted cleanup as the Express’ designated hitter in a 4-0 victory over Omaha.

“I am just happy, my wife is happy,” Ramirez told reporters after being welcomed by 8,910 fans who chanted his name. “I am working very hard and we’ll see where it goes. But it is a fun ride.”

The former Red Sox star expressed confidence he get get back to the majors and finish on his terms, rather than with the threat of a suspension from Major League Baseball for performance-enhancing drugs being the reason he stopped playing.

“We all do a lot of things when we are young, but if you can make it through the fire, you are changed, made better and ready for anything else,” he said.

‘™¦ Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent, whose bail was revoked June 27 after two failed drug tests, was released from jail on Sunday pending his trial for intoxication manslaughter.

Brent allegedly was driving his truck on Dec. 8 when it crashed, killing teammate Jerry Brown. Authorities said Brent’s blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit.

Brent, who remains on the Cowboys roster, tested positive for marijuana and May and again in June.

‘™¦ Giants linebacker Don Connor became the latest NFL player to be arrested this offseason, as he was taken into custody at Philadelphia International Airport on Saturday after a switchblade was found in his luggage.

Connor, 27, was charged with possession of an offensive weapon and released on his own recognizance.

A team spokesman said Connor is “cooperating with the authorities in Philadelphia.”

Connor, who played last season with the Cowboys before signing with the Giants in March, is the 30th active NFL player to be arrested since the Super Bowl. Four free agents also have been arrested.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On July 8, 1994, which Red Sox infielder turned an unassisted triple play in the top of the sixth — and then homered to lead off the bottom of the inning — during a 4-3 victory over the Mariners?

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Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Manny Ramirez agrees to minor league deal with Rangers 07.04.13 at 8:23 am ET
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Welcome to Thursday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Padres at Red Sox, 1:35 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Brewers at Nationals, 11 a.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Cubs at Athletics, 4 p.m. (WGN)
MLB: Mariners at Rangers, 8 p.m. (MLB Network)
Canadian Football League: Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Montreal Alouettes, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
Tennis: Wimbledon, 8 a.m. (ESPN)
Cycling: Tour de France, 8 a.m. (NBCSN)


‘™¦ Manny Ramirez is getting another shot at the majors, and he even agreed to cut off his dreadlocks for the opportunity.

Ramirez, the former Red Sox star who was twice suspended for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, agreed to a minor league deal with the Rangers. He’s slated to report to Triple-A Round Rock on Thursday to start working out, and he’ll serve as designated hitter when he is activated. He agreed to “comply with our minor league rules on appearance and discipline,” said Rangers general manager Jon Daniels.

“[My salary] is the minimum wage, but for me it’s too much money,” Ramirez told, adding: “I feel blessed spiritually; I have no words to describe how happy I am.”

The 41-year-old has not played in the majors since early in the 2011 season with the Rays. He recently returned from Taiwan, where he hit .352 with eight home runs and 43 RBIs for the EDA Rhinos of the Chinese Professional Baseball League.

“It’s kind of a no-risk flier,”Daniels said. “We like giving guys second chances. We know on and off the field the good and bad in Manny’s career. But we’re inclined to give him an opportunity here.”

Added Daniels: “We’re really just kind of going off the resume here a little bit. If he’s productive and we feel he fits our culture here in the clubhouse, we’ll give him an opportunity. If either of those ends don’t pan out, then kind of no harm, no foul.”

Ramirez was traded from the Red Sox in 2008, when Dave Magadan was in his second year as Red Sox hitting coach. Magadan, now the Rangers hitting coach, filled in his new team about Ramirez’s questionable behavior at Fenway.

“There were some bridges that were burned in Boston,” Magadan said. “It was unfortunate the way it ended up there because he did a lot of good things while he was there. But in the end it wasn’t pretty.”

‘™¦ Alex Rodriguez grounded out twice in his second rehab start for the Class-A Charleston (S.C.) RiverDogs, leaving him without a hit in two games.

“I don’t mind if I save all my hits for New York,” joked Rodriguez, who is recovering from January hip surgery.

Rodriguez, who is scheduled to play for the Yankees‘ minor league team in Tampa on Friday, started a double play in the field, one day after coming up short on two bunts to him at third base.

“It wasn’t too bad,” he said. “That’s the first time in eight months I’ve gone out there back to back.”

The RiverDogs, who lost to the Rome (Ga.) Braves in 10 innings, 8-5, had a crowd of 7,667 after drawing 8,255 for A-Rod’s first game back on Tuesday. Rodriguez signed autographs for fans after leaving Wednesday’s game. He also posed for pictures with singer Darius Rucker, best known as the lead singer for Hootie and the Blowfish.

“I love this place,” Rodriguez said.

The feeling isn’t completely mutual. Here’s the reaction when A-Rod was introduced Tuesday.

‘™¦ Bulls guard Derrick Rose, who came under some criticism when he sat out the postseason after receiving medical clearance, admitted he was “selfish,” but he insisted he made “the right decision.”

“I’m not a selfish guy at all, but having this injury and going through what I had to go through and being smart, it’s something that I had to be selfish with,” he said in a story on the team’s website. “I couldn’t worry about anyone else but myself and my health.”

Rose called sitting out “one of the hardest things I’ve had to go through in my life.” He said fans eventually will understand why he chose that route, once he returns to action.

“I think me going on the court and showing them and letting them know it was the right decision,” he said.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On July 4, 1983, Yankees left-hander Dave Righetti no-hit the Red Sox, allowing just two walks. Which Sox player struck out to end the game?

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Read More: alex rodriguez, Derrick Rose, Jon Daniels, Manny Ramirez
Manny Ramirez leaves Taiwanese team, rumored to be heading to Japan 06.19.13 at 12:05 pm ET
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Manny Ramirez has parted ways with the EDA Rhinos of the Chinese Professional Baseball League, the team confirmed Wednesday.

There has been speculation that Ramirez might be preparing to join a team in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball. A report from Japan earlier this week indicated the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan’s Pacific League had expressed interest in the former Red Sox star.

The Rhinos only noted in a press release announcing his departure that Ramirez was getting homesick.

In 49 games (182 at-bats) in the CPBL, the 41-year-old Ramirez hit .352/.422/.555 with eight home runs and 43 RBIs.

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Thursday’s Morning Mashup: LeBron James upset about hard fouls after Heat’s streak ends vs. Bulls 03.28.13 at 7:57 am ET
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Welcome to Thursday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

College basketball: NCAA tournament, Marquette vs. Miami, 7:15 p.m. (CBS)
College basketball: NCAA tournament, Arizona vs. Ohio State, 7:47 p.m. (TBS)
College basketball: NCAA tournament, Syracuse vs. Indiana, 9:45 p.m. (CBS)
College basketball: NCAA tournament, La Salle vs. Wichita State, 10:17 p.m. (TBS)
NHL: Kings at Blues, 8 p.m. (NHL Network)
MLB preseason: Twins at Red Sox, 7 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB preseason: Mets at Nationals, 1 p.m. (ESPN)


‘™¦ The Heat’s 27-game winning streak, second-longest in NBA history, ended in Chicago on Wednesday night, and LeBron James is not happy with the physical treatment he received from the Bulls.

In the first quarter, Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich, defending one-on-one against James on a fast break, appeared to try to draw a charge, but he put both arms around James as they fell to the floor. (Hinrich actually looked to get the worst of the play, as the back of his head bounced off the court.)

In the fourth quarter, Taj Gibson stopped a layup by bringing his arm across James’ neck and shoulder. (Gibson then offered to help James off the floor.)

“Let me calculate my thoughts real fast before I say [what I want to say],” James said postgame. “I believe and I know that a lot of my fouls are not basketball plays. First of all, Kirk Hinrich in the first quarter basically grabbed me with two hands and brought me to the ground. The last one, Taj Gibson was able to collar me around my shoulder and bring me to the ground. Those are not defensive … those are not basketball plays.”

James, who finished with 32 points, seven rebounds and four blocks in his team’s 101-97 loss, took out his frustration with 3:52 left when he drove his shoulder into the chest of a screen-setting Carlos Boozer and followed through with his elbow, earning a flagrant foul.

James admitted afterward that the hard fouls have started to bother him.

“It’s been happening all year, and I’ve been able to keep my cool and try to tell [Erik Spoelstra], ‘Let’s not worry about it too much.’ But it is getting to me a little bit because every time I try to defend myself, I got to face the consequences of a flagrant for me or a technical foul, whatever the case may be,” James said. “It’s tough. It’s tough. It’s very tough, and I’m not sitting here crying about anything because I play the game at a high level. I play with a lot of aggression, and I understand that some of the plays are on the borderline of a basketball play or not, but sometimes you just got to … I don’t know. It’s frustrating.”

‘™¦ Former Red Sox star Manny Ramirez made his debut in Taiwan’s Chinese Professional Baseball League on Wednesday, going 2-for 6 in the EDA Rhinos’ 9-8 loss to the visiting Brother Elephants in 12 innings.

Ramirez, batting fourth, flew out to left off American Mike Ballard in the first inning. In the second inning, facing rookie right-hander Wu Ming-hsu, he singled to left field (video below) as part of his team’s five-run rally. Ramirez singled to right off Wu in the fourth.

Ramirez had a chance to be the hero twice, but in the eighth he stranded two runners with the game tied at 8, and in the 11th he couldn’t get the ball out of the infield.

The game reportedly was played in front of a capacity crowd of 20,000 fans.

‘™¦ Real Clear Sports has a list of the top 10 buzzer-beaters in NCAA tournament history. No. 1 is NC State’s Lorenzo Charles beating Houston in the 1983 championship game. No. 2 is Christian Laettner‘s jumper that gave Duke a win over Kentucky in the 1992 Elite Eight.

UConn makes two appearances on the list. No. 6 is Tate George‘s jumper that beat Clemson in 1990, and No. 8 is Richard Hamilton‘s fadeaway that beat Washington in 1998.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On March 28, 1986, the Red Sox made a trade with the Yankees to acquire designated hitter Don Baylor, who helped the Red Sox win the 1986 American League pennant. Which player did the Sox trade to New York?

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Read More: LeBron James, Manny Ramirez,
Monday’s Morning Mashup: Dwight Howard apologizes to Magic fans 03.11.13 at 8:02 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

NHL: Bruins at Senators, 7:30 p.m. (NESN)
NBA: Thunder at Spurs, 8:30 p.m. (NBATV)
College basketball: CAA final, Northeastern vs. James Madison, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: Sun Belt final, Florida International vs. Western Kentucky, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Southern final, Davidson vs. Charleston, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: MAAC final, Manhattan vs. Iona, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: WCC final, Gonzaga vs. Saint Mary’s, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
World Baseball Classic: Cuba vs. Nethlerlands, 6 a.m. (MLB Network)
MLB preseason: Cardinals at Yankees, 1 p.m. (ESPN)
MLB preseason: Athletics at Padres, 4 p.m. (MLB Network)


‘™¦ Dwight Howard, who finally has started to play up to his ability with the resurgent Lakers, offered an apology to Magic fans for his behavior with his former team.

“In Orlando, I handled a lot of stuff the wrong way,” Howard told USA Today. “If any of those people in Orlando are upset with how I did it, I apologize for the way I handled it and the way it was handled in the media.

“I really just got caught up in wanting to please everybody else. I really love that city. That was the hardest thing to do was to leave that city because I basically grew up there. That was my whole life. Orlando was it. I did not want to leave all that behind — the city, just everything about it. The fans. But I wanted a change for my life. I just felt like there was something else out there for me.”

Howard, averaging 16.2 points, 12.1 rebounds and 2.4 blocks this season, has helped the Lakers move into the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference following Sunday’s 90-81 victory over the Bulls in which he grabbed 21 rebounds and blocked four shots to go along with 16 points on 8-of-14 shooting

Howard said his recent experience has helped him grow up.

“I’m becoming a better man because of the stuff that has happened to me this last year and a half,” he said. “Everybody goes through stuff like this. Even though I’m going through it where everybody in the world can see it, I’m happy that it’s happening.

“If it didn’t happen, I’d be stuck in my ways. I would never change, and then it would be a lot worse. For all this stuff to happen, for me to sit back and see and evaluate myself and what I could’ve done better and realize that I needed to make a change, I’m getting better. I’m growing up. I’m maturing.”

‘™¦ The latest Darrelle Revis rumor (via ESPN) has Revis’ camp pushing for a quick resolution to the situation, concerned that his value will be diminished after teams sign the free agent cornerbacks on the market. Revis is owed a $1 million bonus if he’s on the roster Saturday, so that might play a role in the team’s eagerness to move him.

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the Eagles are believed to be preparing an offer for Revis, with Philadelphia’s second-round pick (35th overall) a likely starting point.

‘™¦ Manny Ramirez was spotted in an airport Sunday, headed to Taiwan to begin his stint with the EDA Rhinos of the China Professional League. Ramirez’ agent confirmed the slugger’s intentions to continue his careers, which has twice been derailed by suspensions for violations of MLB’s policy against performance-enhancing drugs.

Ramirez, a 12-time All-Star and the MVP of the 2004 World Series for the Red Sox, last played for an Athletics minor league team in the spring of 2012.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On March 11, 1976, which Bruins winger scored the 300th goal of his career with a hat trick in a 6-2 victory over the Maple Leafs?

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Read More: Darrelle Revis, Dwight Howard, Manny Ramirez, Tom Crean
Kevin Youkilis on PEDs: ‘I never even thought about it’ 02.28.13 at 10:39 am ET
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During his nine major league seasons (8½ with the Red Sox), Kevin Youkilis said he’s never been tempted to use performance-enhancing drugs.

“I never even thought about it,” he said from Yankees spring training (via the New York Daily News). “I was always secure with myself. I was just trying to make it to the major leagues, and if I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t do it. I take more pride in the fact that I’ve done what I’ve done without all that stuff.

“I’ve always been of the mindset that you have to be secure within yourself about about what you’ve done in your career. You have to live with what you do for the rest of your life. You have to live with it. I know I’ve been clean my whole life, and I feel fortunate that I never felt like I had to go that route.”

Youkilis signed a one-year deal with the Yankees to fill in for injured third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who has admitted past steroid use and this year was linked to a reputed PED-peddler in South Florida. Youkilis also played in Boston with Manny Ramirez, who has been suspended twice by Major League Baseball since departing the Sox.

“If guys are going to cheat, they’re going to cheat,” Youkilis said. “They’re also going to get caught now more than ever. Some guys believe in stricter rules, some believe that what’s working is working. I never really think about it other than when guys get caught. It’s crazy to think guys are still trying to get away with it, because the testing is unbelievable.”

Seven players were suspended last year, which Youkilis said shows that the league is having success monitoring the situation.

“With the testing now, if you do it, you’€™re getting caught,” Youkilis said. “If you think about how many guys are in the big leagues, that’€™s a very small percentage. Less than 1 percent? That’€™s not bad. I don’€™t think any sport will ever be 100 percent clean. It’€™s life. Everywhere you go, there’€™s a flaw. If less than 1 percent are doing it, that’€™s a great thing.

Youkilis expressed no anger toward offenders, although he said he doesn’t like the lack of honesty after they’ve been caught.

“It never bothered me that other guys were taking it,” Youkilis said. “The only thing that bothered me is when people deny it over and over, then finally come out and say they did it. We live in a forgiving society. If you come out and say you made a mistake, so be it.”

Read More: alex rodriguez, David Ortiz, kevin youkilis, Manny Ramirez
Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Manny Ramirez reportedly has deal to play in Taiwan 02.27.13 at 7:53 am ET
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Welcome to Wednesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

NBA: Warriors at Knicks, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Nuggets at Trail Blazers, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Boston College at NC State, 8 p.m. (MyTV; WEEI-AM)
College basketball: Michigan at Penn State, 6:30 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Georgetown at UConn, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Oklahoma at TCU, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Saint Joseph’s at Saint Louis, 8 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Purdue at Iowa, 8:30 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Oklahoma State at Texas, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Louisville at DePaul, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: San Diego State at New Mexico, 10:15 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Colorado at Stanford, 11 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Saint Mary’s at Pepperdine, 11 p.m. (ESPNU)
NHL: Capitals at Flyers, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL: Red Wings at Kings, 10 p.m. (NBCSN)
MLB preseason: Red Sox at Orioles, 7:05 p.m. (NESN)
MLB preseason: Cardinals at Mets, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB preseason: Giants at Angels, 4 p.m. (MLB Network)


‘™¦ Former Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez reportedly has an agreement to play with the EDA Rhinos of Taiwan in the China Professional League if he can’t find a major league team willing to give him a look by March 7. Ramirez told ESPN Deportes that his agents have called almost every American League team in an attempt to land a spot as a designated hitter, but he’s found no takers.

The Chinese league, in existence since 1989, consists of four teams that play in front of crowds averaging 3,000. Foreign-born players reportedly earn up to $12,000 per month.

Ramirez, who turns 41 in May, last played in the majors with the Rays in 2011, going 1-for-17 before quitting and then receiving his second PED-related suspension. He signed with the Athletics last spring but was released after a brief stint in the minors.

A 12-time All-Star, Ramirez has a career batting line of .312/.411/.585 with 555 home runs. He was the World Series MVP for the Red Sox in 2004.

‘™¦ In other news involving former Red Sox stars, new Yankees third baseman Kevin Youkilis was scratched from the lineup for Tuesday’s game against the Phillies in Clearwater, Fla., after feeling discomfort on the left side. The Yankees announced that Youkilis had a sore left oblique muscle, although Youkilis said it was a hydration issue.

“Just one of those things where after I swung [Monday]. It was hot, I was dehydrated. I got water, and I was fine. Being a month away from games, they want to take it precautionary. I wanted to play [Tuesday], and I was perfectly fine to play. I didn’€™t feel like there was any risk,” Youkilis said. “The doctor said very, very mild. Just a little thing that happens. I think I learned my lesson, too. Don’€™t say you’€™re tight.”

Added Youkilis: “I’€™ve had an oblique before. It didn’€™t feel anything like that. It’€™s basically like you get a cramp in your side.”

Manager Joe Girardi said he will talk to Youkilis about being honest with the training staff, and he said he’ll need to be convinced Youkilis is healthy before putting him in the lineup for Wednesday’s game.

“We will make him go through hoops,” Girardi said.

‘™¦ The soccer team Inter Milan was fined 50,000 Euros ($66,500) by the Serie A league for its fans’ racist behavior toward AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli during Sunday night’s game, in the latest embarrassing display of racism involving an Italian club.

A section of fans hurled “racially discriminatory chants” toward Balotelli — the son of Ghanian parents who was born and raised in Italy — and some Inter supporters were waving inflatable bananas, insulting another AC Milan black player, displaying offensive banners and shining lasers toward the eyes of players.

The 22-year-old Balotelli, who played for Inter from 2006-10, was fined 10,000 Euros ($13,300) for making an insulting gesture toward the Inter fans on his way off the field at the end of the 1-1 tie — although it’s not clear what he did other than hold a finger to his lips in an apparent sign of quieting the fans.

Inter was fined earlier this month after fans sang racist chants about Balotelli during a victory over Chievo. Balotelli was acquired by AC Milan from Manchester City in January.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Feb. 27, 1983, which Bruin recorded two goals and an assist in a 4-3 victory over the Whalers in Hartford and in the process became the sixth player to score 250 goals in a Bruins uniform?

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Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Manny Ramirez homers on first pitch in Dominican debut 11.15.12 at 7:54 am ET
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Welcome to Thursday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

NBA: Celtics at Nets, 8 p.m. (TNT; WEEI-FM)
College basketball: Boston College vs. Baylor, 3 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Providence vs. UMass, 7:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Oklahoma State vs. Akron, 10:30 a.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: UNC-Asheville vs. Tennessee, 12:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: N.C. State vs. Penn State, 5 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: St. John’s at Charleston, 5 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Alabama vs Oregon State, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Villanova vs. Purdue, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
NFL: Dolphins at Bills, 8:20 p.m. (NFL Network)
College football: North Carolina at Virginia, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN; WEEI-AM)


‘™¦ Manny Ramirez still is trying to get back into baseball, and the former Red Sox slugger made his case on Wednesday when he hit a home run on the first pitch he saw from Escogido Lions right-hander Daniel Cabrera in his debut for the Los Aguilas Eagles of the Dominican winter league.

A packed house estimated at 22,000 turned out to see Ramirez return to play in his home country for the first time since the winter of 1994-95, and the fans went wild when Ramirez drilled a fastball over the right-field fence to give his team a 1-0 lead.

“I’m not thinking about the big leagues now,” Ramirez, 40, said upon joining the team. “Right now, I’m thinking of helping the Eagles to win games and then, if any offer, then I’ll think of baseball.”

‘™¦ Magic Johnson spoke out against his old team Wednesday, saying the Lakers’ decision to hire Mike D’Antoni over Phil Jackson was another error in judgment by executive vice president Jim Buss, son of longtime owner Jerry Buss.

“I love Dr. [Jerry] Buss. I don’t believe in Jim Buss,” Johnson said on ESPN’s “NBA Countdown.” “He’s made two critical mistakes already. To me, they made two critical mistakes. First, hiring Mike Brown — he wasn’t the right coach. He’s a great coach but not the right coach for the Lakers. And I don’t feel Mike D’Antoni is the right coach for the Lakers. Especially when you have Phil Jackson sitting out there, who wanted to be the Laker coach. Jim Buss decided he didn’t want Phil Jackson, he wanted Mike D’Antoni. And that’s OK, but why didn’t you just say that? But the fans were cheering for Phil Jackson two nights in a row.”

Earlier in the day, Johnson ended two days of Twitter silence, writing:

The reason I haven’t tweeted in 2 days is because I’ve been mourning Phil Jackson not being hired as the Lakers head coach. My mother always taught me that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

A day earlier, general manager Mitch Kupchak insisted the decision to go with D’Antoni over Jackson was a unanimous one between he and the Busses, insisting that D’Antoni is a better fit for this roster.

“Without going into great detail, some of our guys I don’t think would be very successful in the triangle [offense],” Kupchak said Tuesday. “Some of our newer players might take a long time to learn the triangle.”

‘™¦ The Texas A&M football team is coming off an upset of No. 1-ranked Alabama on Saturday, but the team’s excitement was tempered when freshman wide receiver Thomas Johnson went missing Monday night. Johnson, who has 30 receptions for 339 yards and a touchdown in 10 games this season, was found safe Thursday morning, with more details expected later in the day.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Nov. 15, 1967, Carl Yastrzemski, winner of the American League’s Triple Crown, was named MVP. However, the vote was not unanimous. Which Twins player received one vote?

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Read More: Magic Johnson, Manny Ramirez, Mike D'Antoni, Phil Jackson