Ortiz 'hurt' Ramirez isn't going into Hall of Fame with him

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Jan. 26—When David Ortiz is inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this summer, his friend and mentor Pedro Martinez will be there waiting to welcome his former Red Sox teammate into the Cooperstown fraternity.

Had things played out differently, another of Ortiz's teammates and Dominican Republic countrymen might have been able to welcome him into the Hall of Fame as well.

Manny Ramirez, who teamed with Ortiz to form one of baseball's most formidable middle of the order pairings in the mid-2000s, remains on the outside looking in after six years on the Hall of Fame ballot. The former Red Sox great undoubtably has a Hall of Fame resume — he hit 555 home runs with a career slash line of .312/.411/.585 — but his multiple performance-enhancing drug suspensions have rendered his candidacy dead on arrival.

Even amid the joy of receiving his call to the hall, Ortiz said he's saddened by Ramirez's continued exile, even though he understands the reasons why.

"Not seeing him in the Hall of Fame right now is something that really hurts me, and it hurts him because he knows that he made mistakes," Ortiz said following his election Tuesday night. "He was a big brother to me and I want to thank him for being there for me."

During their time as teammates Ortiz and Ramirez formed one of the most fearsome middle of the lineup combos in baseball history. Between 2003 and Ramirez's midseason departure at the 2008 trade deadline the pair combined to hit 422 home runs with 1,325 RBI while earning 11 all-star nods and seven top-five American League MVP finishes.

Ramirez's tenure in Boston ended acrimoniously — he was quoted after the trade saying the Red Sox "don't deserve me" — and eventually his reputation was irrevocably damaged after he twice tested positive for PEDs, first with the Dodgers and later with the Rays.

Ortiz said he had a long conversation with Ramirez on Monday and that he's proud of the growth his old teammate has shown since those days. He said Ramirez has become a man of faith and is someone he admires, and that he's developed a level of accountability he rarely used to display.

"Manny, while he played he was a hard working guy who had his personality, it's not a secret for any one of us, and he admits he did so many things the wrong way for being immature and not being able to listen," Ortiz said. "He admits it now because when you are a son of God you have to be able to know what you did wrong and what you didn't. You listen to Manny talk right now and it's a beautiful thing because he knows the mistakes he made."

Even if Ramirez likely won't ever make the hall himself, Ortiz probably wouldn't have either if not for his friend's example. He said Tuesday that when he first arrived in Boston in 2003, Ramirez took him under his wing and helped teach him how to take his plate approach to the next level.

"Manny was the type of professor where he didn't need to say much, you just had to focus on his work ethic back then and you would learn, and that's what I did when I got to Boston," Ortiz said. "I had the talent to hit but I didn't have talent to slow pitchers down like he used to, and I learned that watching him in the batting cages every day."

For his part, Ramirez had nothing but kind things to say about Ortiz after the hall vote was announced, congratulating his old teammate rather than making any kind of comment on his own situation.

"Congratulations my brother David Ortiz with his deserved induction to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, we are more than honored, great pride and joy for all Dominicans," Ramirez wrote in Spanish in an Instagram post. "What a blessing were the years we played together, those were unforgettable times! God bless you."

Email: mcerullo@northofboston.com. Twitter: @MacCerullo.