I suppose the implication here is the Hartford Courant’s David Heusckel would prefer to see Manny Ramirez brooding over Eric Bedard’s mastery of the Red Sox. Or perhaps not, as that would kill the angle.

Even though the Red Sox have fallen out of playoff contention and he isn’t playing, Manny Ramirez is having a blast. He’s laughing in the clubhouse before the game. He’s clowning around at the batting cage as the team stretches.

The fun didn’t stop when the game started Wednesday night.

As soon as he saw a ball hit by Kevin Millar land in the left field stands, Ramirez rose from his seat in the dugout and leaned against the railing. He cupped his hands around his mouth and started yelling at his former teammate as he rounded third.

“Talking smack. He was talking about my shoes,” said Millar, who sported orange stripes that matched the Orioles’ team color. “He said they look like clowns.”

Ramirez sat out for the third straight game because his right knee is too sore for him to play.

Before the game, Ramirez was exchanging barbs with Trot Nixon in the clubhouse. As Nixon headed to the batting cage, Ramirez was reminding him that this will be Nixon’s last season with the Red Sox. Nixon, a free agent, had said earlier he didn’t care to discuss his future.

Upon seeing this unfold, a New York reporter wondered whether Ramirez was even getting treatment for his knee. Ramirez has started only seven of the past 21 games.

“They’ll tell me when he can play,” manager Terry Francona said before the game. “Rather than me running in there every 10 minutes, when they say it we’ll put him in there.”

Can the manager handle Ramirez?

“Manny can’t even handle himself,” said pitcher Julian Tavarez, Ramirez’s close friend.