Manny Ramirez — “Manny being Manny” — is returning to baseball.
The former major-league slugger will be player-coach for the Chicago Cubs’ Triple-A farm team in Des Moines, Iowa, and, in announcing the hiring, Cubs President Theo Epstein emphasized the “coach” part of the job.
“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 released by the team. “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, 41, last played in the majors in 2011, when he spent five games with Tampa Bay. He was suspended twice for positive tests for performance-enhancing substances.
“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.”
Passing along the life lessons he learned will be a big part of his job, as will be sharing his experience as a .312 hitter with 555 home runs over 19 major league seasons. He played for Epstein’s Boston Red Sox teams when they twice won the World Series.
“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 is in a really great place right now and wants to share the lessons he’s learned along the way,” Epstein said. “We think he deserves another chance and that our young hitters will benefit from it.”