CHICAGO -- After more than a week of speculation, Red Sox left fielder Manny Ramirez made it official: He has relinquished his spot on the American League All-Star team in order to rest his nagging right knee.

Major League Baseball issued a brief press release stating as much on Friday afternoon, and saying that Ramirez's spot will be filled by Tigers outfielder Magglio Ordonez.

Ramirez also put out a statement through his agents that stated the following:

"Thank you to the millions of baseball fans who voted for my selection to the 2006 All-Star team that will be played in Pittsburgh next week. I am truly honored by your selection and grateful to have received the most fan votes of any player in the American League. Having played in several All-Star Games in my career, I recognize the value and importance of the All-Star Game. It has always been an honor to be selected and to participate in the game and its festivities.

"Throughout most of the 2006 season, I have been playing with nagging soreness in my right knee. After much consultation and discussion with my team, we have decided that it is necessary for me to rest my knee over the three-day All-Star break. Thank you very much for your understanding."

Red Sox manager Terry Francona has been the most public advocate of Ramirez not participating in the All-Star Game and had discussed the matter at length with general manager Theo Epstein.

"I think [Ramirez] somewhat appreciated it," Francona said. "I think, also, looking at this thing, really trying to look at it from everybody's angle, I might have put some of our guys, our front office or our owners, maybe in a little bit of a bind. I didn't mean to do that.

"I understand what Manny means to this game, at least I hope I do. But at the same time, we're trying to win so bad and I felt strongly enough to try to step in, and I talked to Theo about this a long time ago and told him how I felt. Kind of got his backing because I wouldn't do this just on a whim. I just think it's important. Yeah, I do think [Manny] appreciated it."

The written statement contained Ramirez's first quotable words since March 1, when he reported to Spring Training.

Ramirez has been named to the All-Star team 10 times in his career.

The good news for the Red Sox is that whatever discomfort Ramirez has been feeling in his knee has not affected him in the least at the plate. Ramirez is having yet another terrific season, hitting .310 with 24 homers and 65 RBIs.

In the first six games of Boston's current road trip, Ramirez cranked four homers and drove in 10 runs. He has started 80 of Boston's 84 games.

Ramirez will likely spend the All-Star break at his home in South Florida. Francona even mentioned the possibility that he'll get his knee looked at during that time.

"The only thing he may do and this is not a for sure yet, is see a guy in Miami, but that's not for sure," Francona said. "Actually, on this knee, he's played a lot. I even watched him [against Tampa Bay] the other night. You could tell that it hurt. That's the best way to put it."

While Ramirez won't be going to Pittsburgh, the Red Sox will be represented by David Ortiz, Mark Loretta and Jonathan Papelbon. Ortiz will also participate in the CENTURY 21 Home Run Derby on ESPN.