The Chicago Cubs have hired Manny Ramirez as a hitting consultant.
Ramirez will work with both major and minor league hitters as part of the Cubs' newly established "mental skills program." His former Boston Red Sox teammate, Kevin Youkilis, will also join the Cubs as a scouting and player development consultant.
Ramirez was hired last May as a player-coach for the Iowa Cubs, Chicago's Triple-A affiliate in the Pacific Coast League. Ramirez spent three months with Iowa before a knee injury ended his season with four games remaining. Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein later gushed about Ramirez's influence on Chicago's prospects in an interview with FoxSports.com.
"It opened my eyes about how people can change," said Epstein, the Cubs' president of baseball operations, about Ramirez's stint as a Triple-A player-coach.
"If you had asked me a few years ago, I never would have believed that we would voluntarily put Manny in a position to impact our most important players – and that he would come through."
Ramirez last played in the majors in 2011, appearing in five games for the Tampa Bay Rays. Over eight years with the Cleveland Indians, eight with the Red Sox, three with the Los Angeles Dodgers and one each with the Rays and Chicago White Sox, Ramirez hit .312 with 555 home runs, 1,831 RBIs and a .996 OPS.
Epstein was general manager of the Red Sox while Ramirez was in Boston.
In 2009, Ramirez was suspended 50 games for violating MLB's drug policy. He tested positive for human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a women's fertility drug typically used to restart the body's natural testosterone production following a steroid cycle.
In the spring of 2011, MLB informed Ramirez of another drug violation, which could have resulted in a 100-game suspension. Ramirez elected to retire instead. He requested to be reinstated in September 2011, and he was granted a reduced 50-game suspension. He signed with the Oakland Athletics in February 2012, but was released that June without appearing in a game.
The Cubs went 73-89 in 2014, their best season since 2010.
- Mike Fiammetta