Manny Ramirez reports to A's Spring Training, resumes being Manny
As of Friday morning, Manny Ramirez is back in the big leagues. Ramirez reported to the Oakland A's Spring Training facility in Phoenix, AZ, a spry, young 39 years old and his looming MLB suspension reduced to just 50 games.
No, your eyes are not deceiving you -- that sight above is Manny Ramirez in an Oakland Athletics uniform, actually attempting to field a ball. Ramirez has signed with the Oakland A's, in a minor league deal that pays a prorated $500,000 if he makes the A's roster. Per his drug suspension, Manny is not eligible to play until his 40th birthday -- May 30, at Minnesota.
That didn't seem to matter at at Manny's first batting practice Friday afternoon. With his whole family and an entourage of reporters looking on, Ramirez showed off the power swing and the dreadlocks of a man half his age. The San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser reports that Manny "looked good in batting practice – he hit seven balls out of Phoenix Muni, one to dead center with a nice, easy swing." Video of Ramirez' first swings in batting practice can be found below, courtesy of Ms. Slusser's YouTube account.
If his first day as an Oakland A is any indication, Manny's unintentional sense of humor is in mid-season form.
His first meeting with an Oakland A's pitcher did not go particularly well. "Manny just asked if I was the video coordinator," left-handed starter Brett Anderson tweeted. "Our relationship can only go up from here."
When Ramirez talked to reporters, even more Manny being Manny ensued. "God has given me a second chance and I'm not going to waste it," Ramirez told ESPN. "My arrival in Oakland is not a coincidence, it's a God-incidence."
I'm no biblical scholar, but I'm pretty sure the term "God-incidence" does not appear anywhere in the scriptures.
Ramirez will wear the No. 1 with the A's, telling ESPN that, "Everything starts with the number one. To me, it's like a new beginning." Ramirez had originally wanted the No. 7, in his words, "because God made seven days."
Unfortunately for Ramirez, infielder Adam Rosales already wears No. 7 for Oakland. Fortunately for Ramirez, though, he did actually find a Major League Baseball team willing to give him another chance. The ManRam seems humbled by all this.
"Sometimes you don't appreciate what you have until you lose it, and that's what happened to me," Ramirez told ESPN. "Now I appreciate my family more, my kids, the game. I've got a beautiful wife, I've got my kids, my family and I'm getting my career back. It's been a blessing."
That beautiful wife he mentions there actually threw some pitches to the kids in batting practice -- wearing heels and a dress.
The A's think this Manny experiment can go well, providing them with a low-risk option and some possible trade deadline bait later in the season. A's manager Bob Melvin told ESPN, "He can be a great example with his work ethic."
Manny Ramirez? Work ethic? Dodgers, Red Sox, White Sox, Indians, and Rays fans will tell you that would take more than a God-incidence.