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Monday, May 26, 2014
Ortiz on Manny: 'Different guy'

By Gordon Edes

ATLANTA -- David Ortiz said that his longtime slugging partner, Manny Ramirez, who on Sunday was announced as a new player-coach for the Chicago Cubs’ Triple A team, is “a different guy.”

"To be honest with you, guys, the Manny you’re going to see [Wednesday] at Fenway is a different guy, man, a different guy,” Ortiz said after Boston’s 8-6 win over the Braves on Monday. “He’s been doing different things the last couple of years, you know.

“I’ve been talking to him a lot on the phone. Sometimes I get confused because I don’t know if I’m talking to him or not. He’s legit, you know what I’m saying.”

The Red Sox are honoring members of the 2004 World Series championship team on Wednesday, and the club has announced that Ramirez, 41, is planning to attend those ceremonies. On Sunday, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, citing Ramirez as a gifted student of hitting, said Ramirez has been hired to mentor some of the Cubs’ prospects.

“Manny has made real mistakes in the past but he has owned up to them and moved his life in a positive direction the last couple of years,” said Epstein, who clashed repeatedly with Ramirez when both were in Boston, placing him on unconditional release waivers after the 2003 season, then dealing him at the trading deadline in 2008. “He is in a really great place right now and wants to share the lessons he's learned along the way. We think he deserves another chance and that our young hitters will benefit from it.”

Ramirez last week told ESPNDeportes.com's Enrique Rojas he was appreciative that the Red Sox invited him back for the ceremony.

"It would be a privilege to go back to Boston after a not so good goodbye," he said.

Ramirez’s major league career ended after he tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs twice, once with the Dodgers, earning a 50-game suspension in 2009. He tested positive again for a PED in 2011 with the Tampa Bay Rays, and he elected to retire rather than serve a 100-game suspension.

Ramirez successfully appealed for reinstatement after the 2011 season, his penalty reduced to 50 games, but he never played in the big leagues again. He played last season in Taiwan and then signed a minor league deal with the Texas Rangers, but he was released in August.

Ortiz echoed Epstein’s description of Ramirez’s transformation.

“I really like the fact he’s doing things better. He should have been doing those things for a long time, especially being the person he was, but you know we’re human,” Ortiz said. “Everybody’s different, and I’m glad he’s looking out for his kids and family, trying to get things better.”