Manny Ramirez is coming back to baseball — as a player-coach for the Chicago Cubs’ Triple-A team.
Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein announced in a statement Sunday that Ramirez “is not and will not” be on the Cubs’ major-league roster, stating that the once-feared slugger will serve as a mentor to Chicago’s minor-league hitters in Des Moines, Iowa.
“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.”
The 41-year-old Ramirez will take at-bats in extended spring training games at the Cubs’ facility in Mesa, Arizona before joining the Triple-A 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.”
Ramirez has not played in the majors since a five-game stint with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011. The 12-time All-Star was suspended twice late in his career for testing positive for performance-enhancing substances, but Epstein thinks Ramirez will be a positive influence on the Cubs’ prospects.
“Manny is not only one of the best hitters of all time, he is also a dedicated student of hitting and has proven to be a gifted teacher with younger teammates who have worked with him in the batting cage,” Epstein said. “Behind the scenes he has always been a tireless worker who is very serious about the craft of hitting.”
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SOURCE: ESPN / The Associated Press