Manny Ramirez is back in baseball because of his mind, not his bat.
The 41-year-old former All-Star signed on Sunday as a player-coach with the Chicago Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate in Iowa, where he’ll be tasked more with mentoring prospects than hitting homers.
It’s not the triumphant return to the majors Ramirez might have been seeking, but Cubs president Theo Epstein is very serious about what the aging slugger can bring to the table.
“This is not a PR move at all,” Epstein told reporters Sunday, via ESPN.com. “This is purely a baseball move, specifically a player-development move.
“While Manny is not and will not be a fit on the Cubs’ major league roster, we do think at this stage in his life he’s a nice fit as a mentor for some of the young, talented hitters we have in our organization,” Epstein continued. “Manny will coach full-time and play part-time in a role that will not take at-bats away from our prospects. If he shows there is still some magic in his bat, perhaps he will find his way to the major leagues and help another team, but that is not why he’s here.”
One of Ramirez’s new disciples will be 21-year-old infielder Javier Baez, who is rated as the organization’s top prospect but is hitting a mere .211 at Triple-A this season.
“I think (Baez) has a lot to garner from Manny in more ways than one: both first-round picks, both Latin players with English as a second language, both getting to the upper levels in quick fashion with a lot of expectations placed on them due to prior performance,” Cubs scouting director Jason McLeod told ESPNChicago.com.Photo via Twitter/@betovilla7