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Assuming that there are no postponements in their schedule, the Oakland Athletics expect to have the freedom to activate Manny Ramirez on May 30 - his 40th birthday, as the AP pointed out. He'll begin a two-week "rehab assignment" on Saturday. No need to get into the whole PED thing, with the suspensions and all that.
Except to wonder how much they enhanced his performance as his career entered its twilight. In 2010, when he returned from his first suspension for the offense, he posted a meager .253/.410/.329 slash line for the Los Angeles Dodgers (12 plate appearances) and Chicago White Sox (the other 100). He registered only 17 trips to the plate with the Tampa Bay Rays (.059/.059/.059) before he was popped a second time and abruptly retired.
Sometime this past winter, he changed his mind and wanted back in, and because he'd taken so much time off, the league reduced his second penalty to 50 games. Ramirez told the media that he'd been working out often and was in great shape, and the A's bought it - well, sort of, it's not like they risked much moolah.
In spring training, Manny had a couple of moments of brilliance - OK, he went deep a couple of times - but in 18 at-bats, he collected only one other hit, a double. That tiny sample from exhibition play certainly isn't enough to dispel doubts about his faded power since he became a violator.
Manny is perhaps one of the greatest hitters ever to play the game, but at his age, the career .312 hitter is a probable shadow of the man who displayed that greatness. And we can't be certain when performance enhancers first became a part of his balanced breakfast.
AL players, at least those with deep benches, should've tucked the long shot away awhile ago because of the chance the A's have given him. Unless you're in a very deep mixed league, like those in the NFBC, there's probably little reason to sit on Ramirez. Don't pin hopes to him.
Monitor his performance while he's at Triple-A Sacramento, however. If he does show signs of the quality hitter he was, keeping in mind that offense in the Pacific Coast League is robust to begin with, it should drive up roto managers' interest. Those who can afford to waste the roster spot should consider holding him well after he's activated, in case he gets off to a cool start that has more to do with his layoff than his eroded ability.
If and when the A's make that move, it'd seem likely to come at the expense of either Kila Ka'aihue or Daric Barton. Hawaiian Crush is off to a solid start (.275/.333/.413 in 87 plate appearances), but he may need to make a stronger impression to survive Man-Ram Day. Despite Barton's early marks (.193/.316/.289 in 98 plate appearances), the A's have shown faith in his ability to get on base and know he's smooth with the leather.
About Nicholas Minnix
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.
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