Manny Ramirez makes baseball return in Australia

Manny Ramirez’s next destination to be Manny is Sydney, Australia.

The former Major League Baseball star joined the Australian Baseball League’s Sydney Blue Sox ahead of the new season, which begins Thursday. Ramirez, 48, made his final MLB appearance in 2011 and has played in U.S. minor leagues as well as in the Dominican Republic, China and Japan since. His latest stop is Down Under.

“We knew there’d be a Manny show but it’s been a pleasure,” Sydney manager Shane Barclay told The Associated Press. “The buy-in from [Ramirez] has been magnificent and just watching him swing a bat, you’re going, ‘There’s no way this guy is 48.’ He’s an incredible athlete. He’s legit and here to play and bought in in every way. He’s going to hit some long balls this season.”

Ramirez played 19 years in the big leagues, making 12 All-Star Games and hitting 555 home runs while playing for the Indians, Red Sox, Dodgers, White Sox and Rays. He was World Series MVP when Boston won its 2004 World Series to snap an 86-year drought. In addition to the home-run power, Ramirez is regarded as one of the best right-handed hitters in baseball history, compiling a career .312 batting average and .411 on-base percentage.

The end of Ramirez’s MLB career was mired in controversy, as he was suspended 50 games in 2009 for violating baseball’s drug policy. Another violation in 2011 led to a 100-game suspension for Ramirez, who appealed and had it reduced to another 50 games. Ramirez’s late-career ties to Performance Enhancing Drugs are the only thing keeping him out of the Hall of Fame — Ramirez has yet to receive 30 percent of the votes in a given year, well below the 75 percent threshold to get in.

After his final MLB stint with the Rays, Ramirez spent time in the Oakland and Texas systems. Ramirez signed with the Blue Sox in late August for what was reported at the time to be a role as a player-coach. 

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