Manny Ramirez said over the weekend, after signing on as a player-coach in the Chicago Cubs’ minor league system, that he is a changed man.
When asked about his former Boston Red Sox teammate on Monday in Atlanta, David Ortiz agreed.
Ortiz told reporters he recently spoke to Ramirez — the other part of Boston’s devastating middle-of-the-order duo throughout the 2000s — and could tell right away that this was a different Manny than he knew from their time in Boston.
“He is a totally different dude,” Ortiz said, via WEEI.com. “I’m very happy the way his life has changed for good, because sometimes it’s hard for people to understand the things that we deal with every day. And hear me out, I’m not trying to make any excuses for the things that he did before — because it doesn’t matter, they’re bad things — but I believe that people always deserve a second chance, especially when you want to do things right.”
Cubs president Theo Epstein has said that Ramirez was brought on solely to serve as a mentor to the team’s young prospects, claiming Ramirez “is not and will not be a fit on the Cubs’ major league roster.” But Ortiz wouldn’t be surprised if the former All-Star finds his way back to the bigs sooner rather than later.
“I’ll tell you what, the smarter that Manny is, and as much as he knows about the game, I would put Manny right in the big leagues a couple of weeks later,” Ortiz said. “Player-coach, whatever you want to have it. That organization needs a guy like that right now more than ever and it’s because the experience that he has, the personality that he’s carrying with himself right now. I think the smart player on the ball club would like to be right next to him 24/7 just so they can get to learn what he knows about the game.”
Ramirez will make his return to Fenway Park this Wednesday as part of the ceremony honoring the 2004 World Series championship team.