DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Manny Ramirez has been called everything from a World Series MVP to a cheater.
The disgraced slugger is hoping to add “mentor” to his resume.
The 42-year-old Ramirez, a two-time champion with Boston and a two-time offender of Major League Baseball’s rules against performance-enhancing drugs, joined the Triple-A Iowa Cubs as a player/coach on Thursday after signing with Chicago in late May.
Ramirez is expected to play one or two times a week for the organization’s top affiliate in Des Moines. But Ramirez’s biggest responsibility will be to work with the Cubs’ most promising prospects — and he’s already got some simple advice for them.
“Do the right thing, bro. Follow the rules. That’s it,” Ramirez said Monday.
Ramirez spent the last month working on his swing in Arizona, even though Epstein said that the club had no plans to add him to the major league roster. But Epstein said that he’s received glowing reports about Ramirez’s attitude and work ethic from those in the organization who’ve worked with him so far.
“When you come here and you’re helping young players grow up and see them go to the next level, I think that’s such a joy for yourself, to come and help somebody else. It doesn’t matter who you are. It’s who you’re going to be,” Ramirez said.
Many of the cornerstones of the Cubs’ rebuilding effort are now under the guidance of Ramirez, and perhaps shortstop Javier Baez will benefit most from Ramirez’s tutelage.
Baez, a 21-year-old Spanish-speaking native of Puerto Rico, is considered one of the game’s brightest young prospects. But he’s struggled some at Iowa, currently hitting .239 with 11 home runs through 71 games.
“There’s no one better to teach hitting,” Epstein said. “He could always burn me on it, and we’d release a minor league coach, a minor league player. But I don’t think that’s going to happen. I think if he helps one of our many talented young hitters in the organization. ... it will be worth it.”