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Cubs' Theo Epstein on Manny Ramirez signing: 'Not a PR move'

Manny Ramirez reportedly wants to return to the major leagues. (AFP/Getty Images) Manny Ramirez is a 12-time MLB All-Star and has 555 career home runs. (AFP/Getty Images)

Chicago Cubs president Theo Epstein says the signing of Manny Ramirez was not a public relations stunt and was meant as a "a player-development move."

Ramirez was signed as a player-coach for the Cubs Triple-A affiliate in Iowa last week.

Ramirez, 41, has not played in the major leagues since 2011. He will play in extended spring training games in Arizona before reporting to Iowa.

"You never know in this world,” Epstein said, via the Chicago Sun-Times. “But I think there's potential high impact here.

Epstein said the signing of Ramirez "is not a PR move at all ... this is purely a baseball move. Specifically, a player-development move.”

Ramirez, who has 555 career home runs in 19 MLB seasons, was suspended twice for performance-enhancing drug use.

“If he can influence one player, make him a little bit calmer in the box, give him a little bit better mental approach to hitting, teach him something about how to approach the right-handed breaking ball the right way — if he can convince one player not to do [performance-enhancing drugs], if he can just influence one player in a positive way, then it was worthwhile.”

“Yeah, he's going to be around some of our better prospects. That's important,” Epstein said. “But there's relatively low risk involved. It's something that if it doesn't go well, we can terminate. But I think it will go well.”

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