Updated: Monday, 26 May 2014 02:27 | By Agence France-Presse

Ramirez returns as minor league player-coach

Former Major League Baseball superstar slugger Manny Ramirez will join the Chicago Cubs as a player-coach for the team's top developmental club, Cubs general manager Theo Epstein said Sunday.


Ramirez returns as minor league player-coach

This photo taken on March 27, 2013 shows former Boston Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez speaking during a press conference following his debut game on the island after joining the EDA Rhinos in March, in Taiwan's southern Kaohsiung baseball stadium - by Mandy Cheng

Ramirez, a lifetime .312 hitter with 555 home runs over 19 seasons, has not appeared in the major leagues since a five-game stint with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011, which ended when he retired after failing a second doping test.

In 2009, Ramirez was suspended 50 games after testing positive for a banned performance-enhancing substance while with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"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," Ramirez said.

Epstein knows Ramirez from their glory days together with the Boston Red Sox, when Epstein was general manager for most of Ramirez's Boston run from 2001-08, which saw the Red Sox win the 2004 and 2007 World Series.

But Epstein also made it clear that a major league comeback is not in the plans for 41-year-old Ramirez, who now will work with Iowa Cubs hitters and serve as a part-time player.

"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," Epstein said.

"Manny will coach full-time and play part-time in a limited role that does not take at-bats away from our prospects. We are thrilled that he wants to work with our young hitters and make a difference.

"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's not why he's here."

Ramirez, the 2002 American League batting champion, spent the past two seasons in the minor league systems of the Oakland A's and Texas Rangers but was released last August.

"I'm at the stage of my life and career where I really want to give something back to the game that I love," Ramirez said.

"The Cubs have some very talented young hitters and I would love nothing more than to make a positive impact on their careers."

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