From the Providence Journal’s Sean McAdam :

Spurred by his request to be dealt and, to a lesser extent, by increasing frustration in the clubhouse with his antics, the Red Sox stepped up their efforts yesterday to deal Manny Ramirez, talking trade with at least five major league teams.

Ramirez further alienated himself from teammates and members of the organization when he rebuffed the team’s attempt to put him in the lineup Wednesday at Tampa Bay’s Tropicana Field after the Sox found themselves short a position player.

Ramirez’s insistence that he be given a day off Wednesday as promised, sources indicate, infuriated some teammates and resulted in an angry confrontation between Curt Schilling and Ramirez.

Schilling got into a heated argument with Ramirez and David Ortiz had to step in and separate them.

Newsday’s Ken Davidoff, Jon Heyman and David Lennon have futher details on the Manny-The-Met rumors.

One executive involved in the talks estimated that the trade has a “20 percent” chance of happening.

The Mets, according to a National League official, were insistent that they wouldn’t trade outfield prospect Lastings Milledge, and that could prove to be a significant obstacle heading into Sunday’s 4 p.m. non-waiver trading deadline. The Mets didn’t want to pay the entire $64 million remaining on Ramirez’s contract through 2008. The Devil Rays are notoriously difficult, demanding trading partners.

The Mets began Friday holding separate conversations with the Red Sox and Devil Rays (who want pitching prospect Yusmeiro Petit for Baez), but those merged into a single negotiation by day’s end. Mets minor-league pitcher Gabby Hernandez is included in the bargaining.