Tampa - It became very apparent early on in Tuesday's news conference that Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez are very comfortable around each other.
They both have a sense of humor and a mission.
Being in their upper 30's, and seemingly past their prime, they are out to prove different.
Damon says he certainly has more left his tank. Ramirez says he's in the best shape he's been in quite some time.
Each brings an impressive portfolio to the Rays. Both can hit, with Man-Ram as the DH, Damon as a left fielder.
Neither will try and pull the wool over anyone's eyes. Both of these players taking the field for 162 games won't happen.
That brought a humorous comment from Ramirez saying " You (Damon) play 100 games, I'll play 62."
That got a laugh, and that was just Manny being Manny.
Ramirez has been known to be, lets say, a moody player.
That's where Damon comes in. When the two were with the Red Sox, Manny had his share of "Mannyisms", but Damon was able to help Ramirez through those times.
They have respect for each other, and do bring a work ethic that anyone in the Rays organization can be happy with.
My only question today was this: Were these two players coming to the Rays because they just want to get one more year, and few more million?
Or where these guys here to help this young team defend its AL East title?
To be perfectly up front, I'm not sure. I want to believe they are here to help the club win.
I want to believe these two will carry the experience and leadership they possess throughout the season.
Damon, I believe, will get that done. I just have to see what Manny is really all about.
What tips me off to this feeling was the conversation I had with both players agent, Scott Boras.
He is the most powerful agent in sports, many say.
He has crafted some super-sized contracts for these players in the past, and others.
What he said to me caught my attention.
This deal that was made to bring Ramirez and Damon to the Rays was "like the perfect storm."
Both had made their money already. That was not the main issue of theirs heading into free agency. Had it been, the Rays would have never been in the running.
For Damon, it is a chance to be much closer to home in Orlando. For Man-Ram, likewise, with his family living in Florida.
But Boras said that Damon had the Rays on his radar screen five-six years ago. Damon acknowledged that fact in the news conference.
Manny, no talk of that.
So in short, I will sit back and observe, as will the Rays.
All the promises and dinner chat is over.
The real thing is not that far off.
As Rays VP Andrew Friedman told me today, they arent' about to sit back and throw their hands up and say they can't compete in the AL East.
They are doing whatever they can to make this team as competitive as possible.
Baseball experts have applauded the Rays for pulling this deal off.
I just need a little more time to make my assessment.
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