Manny Ramirez Headed Back To California

The former ‘retired’ slugger will give it one last shot with Oakland following suspension.

Josh Helmuthby Josh Helmuth

Manny Ramirez is giving it another go. Last seen in a Tampa uniform early last season, it looks like Ramirez will be donning gold and green with Oakland in 2012.

Due to another failed drug test (or because "of an issue" under the drug program, as it was reported), Ramirez only played five games for Tampa in 2011 before unexpectedly retiring. Although he was originally sentenced to a 100 game suspension, it has been cut down to 50 games—and Oakland GM Billy Beane wants to give him one last shot.

If he does make the 25-man roster following spring training, and barring rainouts, Ramirez would make his first start May 30 in Minnesota on his 40th birthday. Add the fact that the former All-Star hasn’t hit .300 since 2010 and hasn’t hit more than 20 home runs since 2008, and you ask; why would Beane sign him?

Essentially, Oakland needs all the help they can get, and by signing Ramirez to a minor league deal only worth $500,000 (if he makes ‘the show’), they have nothing to lose.

According to journalists that have spoken to Manny directly, they are saying he is a changed man. If the ‘it’s just Manny being Manny’ moniker no longer holds true, he could provide some veteran leadership in the club house that is stacked with youth.

The A’s just signed Cuban sensation Yoenis Cespedes to a four-year deal worth $36 million. Many are waiting to see how the dynamic of having both Cespedes and Ramirez on the same team will play out.

But back to ‘needing all the help they can get’ part…

Oakland only won 74 games last season, and in a division that holds both Albert Pujols (Angels) and the last two pennants (Rangers), the A’s front office is doing anything they can to stack some of the odds in their favor. They currently have Brandon Allen and Chris Carter at the first base and DH slots, and although they show a lot of promise, this year might be their last to show what they’ve got.

With young, highly touted prospects throughout the entire Oakland lineup, it would be a surprise to many if Manny simply makes the club this April.