SAN DIEGO -- Until Josh Beckett threw a no-hitter Sunday afternoon, the Cubs were stealing the national baseball headlines with the news that they had hired the lightning rod that is Manny Ramirez to be a player-coach with Triple-A Iowa.
Iowa is home to some of the Cubs top prospects, many of whom have the same backgrounds as Ramirez.
Who might be better to guide young players in the right direction?
"Manny's going to be around some of our top hitting prospects," said Theo Epstein, the Cubs President of Baseball Operations. "It's relatively low risk for us. It's something that if it doesn't go well, we can terminate. I think it will go well. It's important."
In making the announcement, Epstein made it clear that Ramirez will not be returning to the major leagues with the Cubs.
"We are excited to welcome Manny to the Cubs organization and look forward to him working with our young hitters," said Epstein, who previously worked with Ramirez for seven seasons while both were with the Boston Red Sox.
"While Manny is not and will not be a fit on the Cubs' major league roster, we do think at this stage of his life he's a nice fit as a mentor for some of the young talented hitters we have in the organization. Manny will coach full-time and play part-time in a limited role that does not take at-bats away from our prospects. If he shows there is still some magic in his bat, perhaps he will find a way his way back to the major leagues and help another team, but that is not why he is here.
"We are thrilled that he wants to work with our young hitters and make a difference."
There is a risk involved. Ramirez twice drew suspensions late in his career (2009 and 2011) for violating Major League Baseball's policy banning performance-enhancing drugs. In 2009, Ramirez was suspended 50 games for violating Major League Baseball's drug policy. In 2011, a second violation drew a 100-game suspension. Ramirez chose to retire rather than serve the suspension. In September of 2011, Ramirez sought reinstatement and accepted a 50-game suspension.
But the 41-year-old Ramirez was a dynamic hitter. Ramirez had a batting average of .312 with 2,574 hits, 555 homers and 1,831 RBIs in a major league career that spanned 2,302 games and 19 seasons.
At Iowa, Ramirez will be working with the likes of top prospects such as 21-year-old shortstop Javier Baez (Puerto Rico), 22-year-old second baseman Arismendy Alcantara (Dominican Republic) and 22-year-old third baseman Christian Villanueva (Mexico).
"I'm at the stage of my life and career where I really want to give something back to the game I love," said Ramirez. "The game has meant a lot to me and done so much for my family. I know I am nearing the end of my playing days, but I have a lot of knowledge to pass on to the next generation, both what to do and what not to do.
"While I would love to return to the major leagues, I leave that in God's hands. My focus will be working with the young hitters, making sure they don't make the same mistakes I made and helping the team any way I can."
Ramirez last played in the major leagues with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011. He signed a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers last July 5, but was released six weeks later.