Sox glad Everett does everything the hard way

Wednesday, July 12th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ATLANTA -- Maybe somewhere deep inside there's a little kid in Carl Everett that is jumping up and down and screaming with joy about being selected for his first All-Star appearance.

Maybe there's that same little kid is grinning from ear to ear about being able to start last night's contest at Turner Field.

Maybe. But if so, Everett doesn't seem to want anyone to know it.

The Boston Red Sox center fielder, who started in left field last night because an injury kept Cleveland's Manny Ramirez out of the 71st All-Star contest, has his game face on any time he's around a ball park. And that game face doesn't allow for frivolity between the lines.

"I'm no-nonsense on the field," Everett said the other day. "I don't care if you're my brother, my mom, my cousin or my son. If you're on the opposing team, I'm going to knock you down."

There is no question that Everett plays hard. And the Red Sox, his fifth organization, have seen how that attitude has paid off for the 29-year-old slugger.

Everett, who was obtained from the Houston Astros for a couple of prospects last winter, was batting .329 with 24 homers and 69 RBI at the break.

The Sox expected him to produce such numbers, especially after the switch-hitter established career highs with a .325 batting average, 25 homers and 108 RBI for the Astros a year ago.

And he hasn't disappointed, teaming with fellow All-Star Nomar Garciaparra to form a dynamic duo that carried the Red Sox offense in the first half.

Everett also got the A.L. off to a good start last night, too. Everett worked a bases-loaded walk from Kevin Brown in the third inning, forcing home the first run of the game. He also lined hard to center in his first at-bat against Danny Graves, and bounced to first against Tom Glavine in the fifth before being replaced.

It's not as if Everett didn't come to the Red Sox with a few quirks, though. He doesn't believe man ever set foot on the moon, and he doesn't believe dinosaurs ever existed.

Both opinions are in the extreme minority, but Everett isn't afraid to express them, though apparently his ideas aren't hereditary.

"My son loves dinosaurs," said Everett. "He has to find what he believes. That's why he has his books, and I have my books. I won't impose my thoughts on him."

But Everett doesn't always keep his thoughts to himself. He exploded in a loud, profanity-laced tirade at a writer a little over a week ago, upset with an item that appeared in the paper.

"This is my house. This is our house," steamed Everett in the Red Sox clubhouse in Chicago. "They (the media) don't need to be in here. They don't hit for us. They don't pitch for us."

It wasn't the first time Everett has sparred with the media. When some of his anti-Yankee comments were printed during spring training, he tried to freeze out a writer or two.

And he has irritated some teammates with his daily habit of being the last to arrive in the clubhouse and the last to take the field for batting practice.

Clearly, he's a complex individual, one who admits he didn't particularly care about playing baseball when he was in junior high, nor does he consider himself a sports fan.

There are times, though, when he's quite affable and entertaining when dealing with the media. And he's always direct. For instance, just ask him about the differences between the National League and the American League.

"The only part of the American League that's frustrating is the fact there's no running game," said Everett, who swiped 27 bases a year ago but has only six this year, mainly because of manager Jimy Williams's conservative approach to baserunning.

"I like to run and make the defense think," Everett said. "If I'm a defensive player, I don't like aggressive baserunners. I like the guy who turns the base a little, puts his head down and goes back to the base. It makes playing defense harder if you have a running game. That makes the National League a faster game."

Ultimately, his opinions and his quirks don't really matter to his teammates. The only thing that does is his performance on the field.

"I'm pleased that what I'm doing is helping the team win," said Everett. "I hope I'm leading by example, leaving it all out on the field."

So don't expect him to yuk it up with opposing players when he's on the bases or stepping into the batter's box.

Sure, he managed a few smiles during the All-Star festivities, signing autographs for youngsters before the workout and enjoying himself during Monday night's Home Run Derby. But playing baseball is serious business, and only winning matters, Everett says.

"I'll smile once the game is over, but once the game starts at 7 o'clock, you'll see few smiles out of me," said Everett. "I just want to play ball hard and win."