Baseball star Manny Ramirez arrived in Taiwan yesterday evening to join local side the EDA Rhinos.
Ramirez, one of baseball’s most feared sluggers, had been trying to latch on to a Major League Baseball (MLB) team during spring training, but had no luck.
The 40-year-old right-handed hitter arrives in Taiwan with a .312 career batting average and 555 home runs to his credit.
Ramirez came to prominence during his time with the Boston Red Sox, being named Most Valuable Player in the World Series in 2004 as he helped them to their first title since 1918.
Considered a thorn in the side of the Red Sox’s archrivals the New York Yankees, Taiwan’s former Yankees pitcher Wang Chien-ming (王建民) has described Ramirez as a “tough nut to crack.”
After leaving the Red Sox, Ramirez played for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox.
He was last seen in the majors with Tampa Bay in 2011, when he went one-for-17 before being suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs.
The MLB Commissioners Office said that it notified Ramirez that in the event of him being reinstated — which Ramirez formally requested on Dec 4, 2011 — he would face a 100-game suspension. This was later reduced to 50 after negotiations between the MLB and the Players Association.
Last year Ramirez batted .302 playing for Sacramento, Oakland’s Triple-A club, but was released.
The Rhinos look set to challenge for honors in the Chinese Professional Baseball League this year, having been linked with Wang and Kuo Hong-chih (郭泓志) — two of only four Taiwanese players to have appeared in MLB — as well as having signed stars Hu Chin-long (胡金龍) and Kao Kuo-hui (高國輝).
Additional reporting by staff writer and Reuters