Manny Ramirez is back in baseball, and he’s bringing back the old fashion position of player-coach.
The slugger signed on with the Chicago Cubs Triple-A team as a player-coach, a concept popular decades ago that has fallen out of practice. He is expected to inject some power into the Des Moines lineup while mentoring young players.
Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, who worked with Manny in Boston, said Ramirez “is not and will not” be on the Cubs’ major-league roster this year.
“While Manny is not and will not be a fit on the Cubs’ major league roster, we do think at this stage of his life he’s a nice fit as a mentor for some of the young talented hitters we have in the organization,” Epstein said. “Manny will coach full-time and play part-time in a limited role that does not take at-bats away from our prospects.”
“If he shows there is still some magic in his bat, perhaps he will find his way to the major leagues and help another team, but that is not why he is here. We are thrilled that he wants to work with our young hitters and make a difference.”
Manny Ramirez last played in the majors in 2011 with the Tampa Bay Rays. He also had two long suspensions for performance-enhancing drugs and then a stint in Taiwan, but said he is ready to return and share some of his expertise with the young players on the Iowa Cubs.
“I’m at the stage of my life and career where I really want to give something back to the game that I love — the game that has meant so much to me and done so much for me and my family,” Ramirez said in the release. “I know I am nearing the end of my playing days, but I have a lot of knowledge to pass on to the next generation — both what to do and what not to do.”
Epstein said the setting is the perfect place for Manny to get a second chance.
“Manny has made real mistakes in the past but he has owned up to them and moved his life in a positive direction the last couple of years,” he said. He is in a really great place right now and wants to share the lessons he’s learned along the way. We think he deserves another chance and that our young hitters will benefit from it.”
Those young hitters include infielder Javier Baez, a top offensive prospect, who has struggled in Iowa with a.203 batting average.
Manny Ramirez ended his 19-year MLB career with 555 home runs, 14th most in baseball history.