Manny Ramirez hit .352 with eight home runs and 43 RBIs in 49 games with the EDA Rhinos of the Taiwan League. (AFP/Getty Images)
The Texas Rangers have struggled at the plate during the last month, but a well-known, often controversial slugger could be on his way to help.
The Rangers have signed Manny Ramirez to a minor-league contract Wednesday as first reported by Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News.
Ramirez, 41, will report to Triple-A Round Rock in what could be a final step toward returning to the majors for the first time since 2011.
Grant reports Ramirez has told the Rangers he will abide by all the Rangers' minor league rules and cut his hair to a traditional length.
From the Morning News:
"It’s a no-risk flyer in a lot of ways,” GM Jon Daniels said. “Our history, we like giving guys second chances. We know on and off the field the good and bad of Manny’s career, but we’re inclined to give him an opportunity here.
“When it comes to playing for the Rangers, two things are important to us,” Daniels added. “You have to be talented and prouductive. And just as important, you have to fit our winning culture. Those are going to be the two tests we’ll judge Manny by.”
The Rangers are in the market for right-handed power since designated hitter Lance Berkman's surgically repaired knee has limited his production in the last month.
Ramirez played for the EDA Rhinos of the Taiwan league this spring, hitting .352 with eight home runs and 43 RBIs in 49 games. Rhinos officials report Ramirez told the club he missed his family in New York. His agent, Barry Praver, however, said Ramirez missed playing in the majors. Ramirez's agents reportedly called on every American League team to gauge interest in him as a designated hitter.
Praver said: “The reason he decided not to return for the second half was to free himself to be available to play in the United States. This whole thing with Manny in Taiwan was a phenomenon. He invigorated the league. Attendance went through the roof. It was a very positive experience for both sides.
“Manny was so invigorated by his play there that he wants to return to the majors.”
Ramirez hasn't faced major-league pitching since playing in five games for Tampa Bay in 2011 before testing positive for elevated levels of testosterone. After agreeing to retire and avoid a 100-game suspension, Ramirez received a reduced 50-game suspension to return to the minors with the A's before being released in June.
He previously served a 50-game suspension while with the Dodgers in 2009, after testing positive for a banned substance.
The Rangers believe giving Ramirez an opportunity to become a productive teammate on a team expected to contend for an American League pennant is a no-lose situation -- even if he resorts to his old bad habits of "Manny being Manny."
From the Morning News:
“If he’s productive and we feel he’d fit our culture here, we’ll give him an opportunity,” Daniels said. “If either of those ends don’t pan out, no harm, no foul.”