Rangers, Ramirez agree to minor league contract
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Manny Ramirez is apparently cutting his long dreadlocks for another shot at the major leagues.
The Texas Rangers said Wednesday they had agreed to terms on a minor league contract with the 41-year-old slugger, who hasn’t played in the big leagues since 2011 with Tampa Bay.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said part of the deal was Ramirez, twice suspended for testing positive for banned drugs, agreeing to cut his hair and “comply with our minor league rules on appearance and discipline.”
Ramirez was set to report to Triple-A Round Rock on Thursday, and he will be a designated hitter whenever he is activated. He played for three months in Taiwan before leaving the Rhinos on June 20.
“It’s kind of a no-risk flier,” said Daniels, indicating there was no time frame for him to be called up to the majors. “We like giving guys second chances. We know on and off the field the good and bad in Manny’s career. But we’re inclined to give him an opportunity here.”
Ramirez hit .352 with eight homers and 43 RBIs for the Rhinos. The team tried to keep the 12-time All-Star, but he wanted to return to his family in New York.
Ramirez was suspended for 50 games in 2009 while with the Los Angeles Dodgers after testing positive for a banned drug. He retired in April 2011 instead of serving a 100-game ban for a second positive test while with Tampa Bay, but later agreed to a reduced 50-game suspension and played in the minors for Oakland in 2012.
A lifetime .312 hitter, Ramirez is 14th on the career home runs list with 555.
The Rangers didn’t see Ramirez play in Taiwan, nor were they among the teams that worked him out in Florida recently, Daniels said. The Rangers GM said Ramirez was looking for an opportunity either in the U.S. or Japan.
“We’re really just kind of going off the resume here a little bit,” Daniels said. “If he’s productive and we feel he fits our culture here in the clubhouse, we’ll give him an opportunity. If either of those ends don’t pan out, then kind of no harm, no foul.”
Ramirez won two World Series with Boston, including 2007 when Rangers hitting coach Dave Magadan was in his first year in that job with the Red Sox. But he had a stormy end when he forced his way out of Boston in a trade a year later, a point that Magadan made to Daniels when they discussed Ramirez.
“There were some bridges that were burned in Boston,” Magadan said. “It was unfortunate the way it ended up there because he did a lot of good things while he was there. But in the end it wasn’t pretty.”
Ramirez hit 17 homers in the final 53 games of 2008 after the trade to Los Angeles, but he has just 28 since then because of injuries and the suspensions. He was 1 for 17 without a homer with Tampa when the second drug suspension hit two years ago.
“I think it’s a guy who loves the game and just wants to continue to play,” New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi said before Wednesday’s game in Minnesota. “You don’t ever want to feel like you took your uniform off sooner than you should’ve. So good for him.”
The Rangers entered their game against Seattle without a home run in four straight games, their longest streak in more than two years. They need a right-handed power bat with switch-hitter Lance Berkman struggling through a knee injury and hitting just .198 in his past 25 games.
“I haven’t really seen him on video, just a couple of highlights I’ve seen from some of his home runs in Taiwan,” Magadan said. “We’ll see how it goes when he gets to Round Rock and see what kind of shape he’s in and see if he can still swing it.”
He apparently won’t be swinging any dreadlocks, though.
AP Sports Writer Dave Campbell in Minneapolis contributed to this story.
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