Man Ram the Batting Coach

Chicago Cubs hitting consultant Manny Ramirez watches workouts during a spring training baseball practice, Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015, in Mesa, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Last year Manny Rameriz was a player coach with the AAA team the Iowa Cubs. This year he transitioned to coaching full-time this season. The Cubs hired him in February as a consultant, saying he will work on the “fundamental and mental aspects of hitting” with all their players, majors and minors. If there’s one thing Ramirez knows, it’s hitting. He had a 154 OPS+ with 555 home runs in his 19-year career.

Of course, Ramirez’s playing career was also tainted by two performance-enhancing-drug suspensions. He failed his first test back in 2008 and his second in 2011, which effectively ended his big-league playing career. Ramirez spent some time in Taiwan and in Triple-A from 2012-14, but he never again played in MLB.

PEDs are frowned upon, understandably, so why would the Cubs want him around their young players? Well, again, becaus;e Manny knows hitting and he has an awful lot of knowledge to share.

“I got to know Manny with the Rays a couple years ago, and during that spring training we had a lot of conversations and a lot of conversations about hitting,” said manager Joe Maddon Saturday. “We found out that we’re definitely on the same page. It was really cool to watch batting practice.”

Ramirez does more than just coach Xs and Os. He helps players work on their swing and approach, no doubt about it, but he also spents time working on preparation and the mental components of being a big league player, especially with the team’s young Latin American players.

“(We look at Manny) almost as a cultural coach,” said Maddon. “The fact that we have so many young Hispanic players to have Manny here to validate a lot of the stuff that we’re talking about really helps, not a little, but a lot. His influence within that group has been substantial. When I have a situation or a moment dealing with some of the younger guys there, he’ll come in, we’ll talk about it, and then I just turn him loose.”

While many former players with PED ties become persona non grata — Rafael Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa stand out — others have been welcomed back into the game. Mark McGwire has been a hitting coach with two organizations and both Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens have spent time working as guest instructors in recent years.

The Cubs, an upstart team with a ton of young talent, feel Manny can be an asset and help their young players reach their potential, so they hired him as a coach. After his second PED suspension, something like that seemed unthinkable. But teams are looking for every possible edge, and right now only the Cubs can say they have Manny working with their young players.

“I love having him here,” added Maddon. “He’s a positive, upbeat kind of a guy, and so he’s been a really nice fit. I’m telling you, when it comes to Starlin, and Jorge Soler, primarily those two guys, the job he’s done has been spectacular.”

source: Mike Axisa, baseball writer

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