Report: Athletics ‘Likely’ to Sign Manny Ramirez Before or Soon After Start of Spring Training

Report: Athletics 'Likely' to Sign Manny Ramirez Before or Soon After Start of Spring TrainingManny Ramirez wants baseball back, but the big question has been whether baseball wants Manny back.

The Oakland Athletics apparently do, as the A's are likely to sign Ramirez just before or soon after the start of spring training, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Ramirez, who played in just five games with the Rays last season, has been retired, but he recently expressed a desire to return to the bigs. The 39-year-old slugger would have to serve a 50-game suspension for violating baseball's drug policy before he can return to the playing field, though.

If the A's were to sign the controversial star, it would mark their second big splash of the offseason, as they just signed Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to a four-year, $36 million contract. Ramirez would reportedly join the A's as a designated hitter.

A's outfielder Coco Crisp has already weighed in on Ramirez, during which he expressed admiration for his former Boston teammate.

"I like him. He's a great teammate, he's cool, he works hard, he's just eccentric. He's different," Crisp said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. "All of the great players are quirky in one way or another. Manny is an awesome person, nothing but pleasant and fun, but the negative stuff always captures people's attention more than the positive things. I think the positive outweighs the negative, and I love the quirky guys. They're entertaining. No filter — that's exciting."

It would certainly be exciting to see whether Ramirez has anything left in the tank should he end up returning to baseball in 2012.

The 12-time All-Star hit .298 with nine home runs and 42 RBIs in 90 games split between the Dodgers and White Sox in 2010, and hit .290 with 19 home runs and 63 RBIs in 104 games in 2009. His on-base percentage eclipsed the .400 mark in each of those seasons, though.

Ramirez's last All-Star campaign came in 2008, when hit .332 with 37 home runs and 121 RBIs in his 153 games split between Boston and Los Angeles.

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