By Bruce Levine-
MESA, Ariz. (CBS) — Manny Ramirez has found a new home in the Chicago Cubs organization.
Suiting up for the first day of practice, the former All-Star outfielder will retain the title of consultant for major and minor league hitting.
Ramirez set off a media frenzy Wednesday morning with a mid-clubhouse press conference with 25 reporters and cameras in action. He talked about his previous success being a mentor to the top young players at Triple-A Iowa last season as player-coach.
“You start by being their friend,” he said. “Then they will open up to you. After that you can start working.”
Cubs officials believe with the top young power hitters approaching the major leagues, Ramirez is the perfect guy to teach the right and wrong ways of playing and comporting yourself off the field.
“I am very blessed for them to have had that confidence in me,” he said. “I am happy to be here to help the Cubs win another championship.”
Nobody is sure whether Manny knows that the Cubs haven’t won the World Series in 107 years. Nonetheless, he does have the ear of the young sluggers such as Jorge Soler, Javier Baez and Kris Bryant, who he helped nurture last year in the minors.
“I watched every game he played in,” Ramirez said about Baez’s big league at-bats last fall. “It happened to me (strikeouts) when I first came up with the Indians. You get very excited, so let’s give him time this time of year and see what he can do.”
Ramirez admits he will teach as much about his mistakes on and off the field as he does about hitting.
“Some players mature faster than others,” Manny said. “We have to wait, support them and just give them time. When I first got here, I talked to the young players about the things I did that I would not do again. I said some learn quicker than others, you learn from those mistakes and move on.”
The former MVP was asked about the return of Sammy Sosa to the organization for which he starred for over a 12-year period.
“I don’t know what he is thinking,” Ramirez said. “I think it would be very good if came back and gave some to the kids. He could tell them the good and the bad help them out.”
Ramirez hasn’t officially retired, having played winter ball in the Dominican. He has been told his only role with the Cubs will be as a coach.