Former Boston Red Sox star Manny Ramirez wants to return to baseball and aims to find a roster spot on a CPBL team in Taiwan.
According to the Taiwan Times, Ramirez has his sights set on a return to the Chinese Professional Baseball League where he played briefly in 2013.
"“I have been itching to get back in the batter’s box and be able to compete again. I also miss being around teammates and team dinners post-game,” said Ramirez."
Ramirez, who turns 48 years old next month, hasn’t played professional baseball since his last stint in the CPBL. He hit .352 with eight home runs and 43 RBI in 49 games for the EDL Rhinos before returning to the United States.
His familiarity with the league isn’t the only appeal. The CPBL was the first major professional baseball league in the world to begin their 2020 season amid the coronavirus pandemic. Major League Baseball is still scrambling to find a solution that will safely return players to the field and it could be months before their regular season can begin. If Manny wants to play ball as soon as possible, the CPBL is his best bet.
Not that any MLB team would touch him with a 10-foot pole at this point. Ramirez hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2011 when he lasted only five games with the Tampa Bay Rays.
He retired after testing positive for elevated testosterone, which would have earned him his second PED-related suspension in two years. Ramirez served a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a banned female fertility drug popular among steroid users while playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2009.
His age, history of PED use, and lengthy absence from the game make Manny too much of a liability for any MLB team to risk.
That doesn’t mean he can’t find a home in the CPBL. He’ll certainly be rusty and might not have anything left in the tank but a team could still benefit from having him around.
If nothing else, signing Manny could be a useful publicity stunt. Ramirez cited how attendance nearly quadrupled when he arrived in the CPBL in 2013. He might not draw that many people now but Ramirez is still a big name with some drawing power. A professional sports league recovering from the economic turmoil caused by COVID-19 could use any boost they can get.
Ramirez also mentioned how he could do great things for an organization as a player-coach. Can you imagine the affable Ramirez coaching a team? He doesn’t seem to have the personality for it but players can still learn from him.
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The PED suspensions soiled his reputation but Manny didn’t need to cheat to be a great hitter. He had an unbelievable work ethic and an uncanny ability to recognize pitches. His greatness can’t be chalked up to steroids and it’s highly doubtful he was using them for his entire career anyway. His teammates can learn from his better habits, so long as they don’t follow his “Manny being Manny” personality quirks.
Ramirez spent 19 seasons in the majors, producing a .312/.411/.585 slash line in stints with five organizations. He ranks 15th on the all-time home run list with 555. His 29 postseason home runs are the most in major league history.
In parts of eight seasons with the Red Sox, Manny hit .312/.411/.588 with 274 home runs and 868 RBI. He was an All-Star in each of those seasons and finished top-10 on the AL MVP ballot in his first five years in Boston. Ramirez also played a significant role in vanquishing the 86-year-old curse on this franchise by helping deliver a championship in 2004 and earned World Series MVP honors.
His MLB career is long gone but he still has the urge to play baseball. Ramirez has a message for teams in Taiwan. He has been working out to prepare and remains confident in his ability to provide a positive contribution to any team willing to give him a shot.