CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Cubs want Manny Ramirez to mentor their minor leaguers at the very end of a colorful career that includes two World Series titles and a pair of suspensions for positive drug tests.
Ramirez signed a minor league deal with the Cubs on Sunday and will be a player-coach at Triple-A Iowa after he gets some at-bats in extended spring training at the team's facility in Mesa, Arizona.
The 41-year-old Ramirez is a .312 hitter with 555 home runs in 2,302 games covering 19 major league seasons. Seven of those were in Boston, where Cubs executive Theo Epstein was the general manager of two Red Sox clubs that won it all with Ramirez playing a key role and earning a World Series MVP award.
"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 in a statement. "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."
Ramirez most recently played in the big leagues in 2011, with Tampa Bay. The 12-time All-Star had a minor league with Texas before the Rangers released him last August.
"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," he said in a 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."
Ramirez was suspended for 50 games in 2009 while with the Los Angeles Dodgers after testing positive for a banned drug. He retired in April 2011 instead of serving a 100-game ban for a second positive test while with Tampa Bay, but later agreed to a reduced 50-game suspension and played in the minors for Oakland in 2012.
The teaching role for Ramirez is a bit of a gamble for Epstein, who is depending on Chicago's rich farm system to turn around the floundering franchise. The Cubs lost 197 games over the previous two seasons, and began Sunday in last place in the NL Central with an 18-29 record.
Continue reading this story on the...