Don't expect to see Manny being Manny in the major leagues anytime soon.
Despite an injury that could end DH Lance Berkman's career and the potential Biogenesis-related suspension of right fielder Nelson Cruz, the Texas Rangers do not plan on summoning Manny Ramirez from Triple-A anytime soon, major league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
The Rangers signed the 41-year-old Ramirez to a minor league deal in early July after he spent the season's first two months playing for the EDA Rhinos of the Chinese Professional Baseball League. Over 16 games, Ramirez has hit .250 with an on-base percentage barely over .300 and three home runs in 60 at-bats.
More important than the numbers are the quality of the plate appearances, and talent evaluators who have seen Ramirez are not filing reports that indicate he's anywhere close to resembling what he was before two performance-enhancing-drug-related suspensions helped jettison him from the game: one of the best right-handed hitters in major league history.
"This isn't Manny Ramirez," said one scout who recently saw Ramirez. "This is a 41-year-old still trying to play baseball and not doing it very well."
Ramirez has not taken a major league at-bat since he walked away from the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011 after a positive PED test left him facing a 100-game suspension. A comeback with the Oakland A's last season fizzled out in Triple-A, and scouts expect the same this time around. Though Ramirez has proven no trouble on or off the field, one evaluator said his "bat looked slow" and another said "he's not ready to help anyone right now."
The Rangers may need it from someone soon. With Berkman's hip injury leaving him pondering retirement and the Rangers unsure how Cruz will handle a suspension – appeal and potentially hurt his free agent value this offseason or accept the punishment and miss perhaps 50 games? – they are interested in a right-handed-hitting outfielder.
They've shopped aggressively in the trade market, according to rival teams, and are scouting most of the right-handed bats available. White Sox outfielder Alex Rios may be the best hitter on the market, and the Rangers and Pirates are believed to be his hottest suitors. Other potential fill-ins include Giants outfielder Hunter Pence and Twins DH Josh Willingham, who is on the disabled list with a torn meniscus.
Texas could acquire a lesser-priced right-handed hitter to platoon with 23-year-old rookie Engel Beltre, whom the Rangers like and has shown promising tools over the last month.
Another potential problem with a Ramirez recall is a cluttered 40-man roster. Currently, the Rangers have 39 players on their roster, and with pitchers Matt Harrison and Neftali Feliz expected to return from the 60-day disabled list around Sept. 1, Texas already could find itself with a logjam.
Of course, another injury or a quiet July 31 trade deadline could change the Rangers' calculus. Barring that, Ramirez is likelier to spend the rest of the season in Round Rock, Texas, three hours down the road from where he really wants to be.
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