Former Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Manny Ramirez was tapped by the Chicago Cubs to act as a player-coach for their Triple-A affiliate in Iowa.
MLB.com's Bill Center wrote more about the development in his May 25 update:
"Manny Ramirez will be joining the Cubs' Triple-A Iowa team as a player-coach.
"The Cubs on Sunday signed the 41-year-old outfielder to a minor-league contract.
"'We are excited to welcome Manny to the Cubs' organization and look forward to him working with our young hitters,' said Cubs presdient of baseball operations Theo Epstein, who previously worked with Ramirez for seven seasons while both were with the Boston Red Sox.
"'While Manny is not and will not be a fit on the Cubs' major-league roster, we do think at this stage of his life he's a nice fit as a mentor for some of the young, talented hitters we have in the organization.'
"'Manny will coach full-time and play part-time in a limited role that does 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 back to the major leagues and help another team, but that is not why he is here.
"'We are thrilled that he wants to work with our young hitters and make a difference.'"
Ramirez told Center what this means at this stage of his life.
"I'm at the stage of my life and career where I really want to give something back to the game I love. The game has meant a lot to me and done so much for my family.
"I know I am nearing the end of my playing days, but I have a lot of knowledge to pass on to the next generation, both what to do and what not to do.
"While I would love to return to the major leagues, I leave that in God's hands. My focus will be working with the young hitters, making sure they don't make the same mistakes I made and helping the team any way I can."
In a separate update, Center enumerates some of the players Ramirez will be mentoring.
"Some of the Cubs' top prospects are at Triple-A Iowa.
"Shortstop Javier Baez, 21, second baseman Arismendy Alcantara, 22, and third baseman Christian Villanueva, 22, are some of the changes Ramirez, who was hired by the Cubs Sunday morning to be a player-coach for the Cubs' Iowa affiliate, will be asked to mold as a hitting coach.
"'Manny's going to be around some of our top hitting prospects,' Epstein told a group of Cubs beat writers Sunday. 'It's relatively low risk for us. It's something that if it doesn't go well, we can terminate. I think it will go well. It's important.'"
CSN Cubs Insider Patrick Mooney notes Epstein wanted to give Ramirez, who failed a drug test in 2009 while with the Dodgers, a second chance.
"The Cubs shocked the world on Sunday morning by signing Manny Ramirez to a minor-league deal that will make him a player/coach at Triple-A Iowa.
"Ramirez convinced Theo Epstein that he's a changed man, someone who can help Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and the next wave of young talent that's supposed to crash onto Wrigely Field.
"The Cubs' president of baseball operations knows all about the eccentric personality, the PED past and the clashes with the Boston media and Red Sox teammates.
"That potentially toxic mix didn't stop the Red Sox from winning World Series titles in 2004 and 2007, or Ramirez from becoming one of the best right-handed hitters in history.
"It stunned the players inside Petco Park's visiting clubhouse, drawing several laughs and one-liners before a 4-3 loss to the San Diego Padres on what was supposed to be a quiet getaway day.
"Ramirez was suspended 50 games in 2009 after testing positive for a female fertility drug, and that bothered Cubs people who watched him carry the Los Angeles Dodgers during a 2008 playoff sweep.
"Ramirez decided to walk away from the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011 after a second failed test would have meant a 100-game suspension. He hasn't been back in the big leagues since, playing in Taiwan and with Triple-A affiliates for the Oakland A's and Texas Rangers across parts of the last two seasons."
Epstein told Mooney,"I do believe in second chances. I do believe in redemption. I do believe that Manny has turned his life around for the better in the last couple of years."
ESPN's Matt Meyers then compares Ramirez's latest venture to that of Rickey Henderson's as his own playing career wound down.
"Over the years, Ramirez's antics have left him open to a lot of criticism, and as Emma Span outlined here, a lot of it is deserved. But as a baseball fan, you can't help but appreciate his desire to keep playing in some form.
"I can think of only one player of his stature who went to such great lengths to extend his playing career, and that was Rickey Henderson, another all-time great player who, like Manny, was infamous for his eccentric personality.
"You can criticize Henderson for some of his odd behavior over the years -- such as allegedly playing cards in the clubhouse as the Mets lost the 1999 NLCS -- but you can't question his desire to extend his career. Ramirez belongs in a similar category."