CLEVELAND (AP) _ The Indians activated right fielder Manny Ramirez from the disabled list Thursday as they began a second half in which they hope to get back into playoff contention.
Ramirez received a loud ovation from the Cleveland fans in his first plate appearance in the first inning. Then he struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch.
Ramirez was the designated hitter Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates. To make room for Ramirez, Cleveland sent right-handed reliever Brian Williams outright to Triple-A Buffalo.
Ramirez hasn’t played since May 29, when he strained his left hamstring running to first base against Anaheim.
``He’s running good enough so he can DH in a game,″ Indians manager Charlie Manuel said. ``We don’t want to push him too much, so he will DH for awhile.″
Manuel said Ramirez was concerned about aggravating the injury.
``But he told me he’s ready to play,″ Manuel said.
Ramirez, eligible for free agency after this season, had frustrated the Indians recently because he wasn’t sure how soon he could rejoin the team. Owner Larry Dolan said this week he isn’t sure Ramirez wants to help Cleveland.
The strain between Ramirez and Cleveland’s front office has fueled talk the Indians might try to deal Ramirez before the July 31 trading deadline, particularly if Cleveland fails to contend.
The Indians, who also have been plagued with injuries to their pitching staff, went 19-20 while Ramirez was on the DL.
Before his injury, Ramirez was hitting .322 in 47 games with 12 doubles, two triples, 13 homers and 47 RBIs. He drove in 165 runs last season.
Ramirez went 4-for-9 with three homers while on rehab assignment at Buffalo.