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Tuesday, February 21, 2012
A's expect Manny Ramirez on Friday

Associated Press

PHOENIX -- Manny Ramirez is expected to join Oakland at its spring training facility on Friday, yet another part of the Athletics' offseason overhaul.

"I watched some video of him and saw the swing. It didn't look any different, and it looked like he was in good shape," A's manager Bob Melvin said Tuesday. "He'll be ready to go with the position players and we'll see what he has to offer."

After trading All-Star pitchers Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez for prospects, the A's signed veteran pitcher Bartolo Colon, re-signed outfielder Coco Crisp, agreed to terms with Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and added Ramirez.

"I'm feeling really good, mostly on a spiritual level. I'm very confident with the shape I'm in heading to spring training," Ramirez said during an interview on Dominican radio station 104.5 FM. "There were three teams interested, but I left God to decide, and that's why I signed with the Oakland A's. I'm only coming back because I always loved baseball, ever since I was little kid. I have a passion for the sport, and I know I can still play."

The A's also dealt A's two-time All-Star closer Andrew Bailey and outfielder Ryan Sweeney to the Boston Red Sox for outfielder Josh Reddick and two minor leaguers.

"What we did was acquire a lot of young players," A's GM Billy Beane said. "In areas where we could use immediate help, we acquired someone who could step in."

Melvin also defended the moves Tuesday, saying he avoids using the term "rebuilding."

"I prefer to use retooling or reshuffling," Melvin said. "The first wave of trades was to enhance our system. We like Cahill and we like Gio, but we brought back more. Now you see what you have left financially to go out and try to make the team better."

Ramirez becomes the latest in a series of signings made by Beane to improve power production over the years. He's also brought in John Jaha, Mike Piazza, Frank Thomas and Hideki Matsui and traded for Jack Cust.

"He is one of the best right-handed hitters I've ever seen," Beane said of Ramirez. "This is a guy who combines power with on-base percentage along with a high batting average. He's a unique player."

The 12-time All-Star is due to serve a 50-game suspension for his second positive drug test before he can play for the A's. The A's don't have to pay him during his suspension and will give him per diem money during the club's spring training stint in Phoenix, which is shorter than usual because of two season-opening games in Japan next month.

"From the first conversation with his agent (Barry Praver), it was made clear that money was not an issue," Beane said. "He wanted to play. He wanted to make sure he went out the right way. He loves to hit."

Ramirez ranks 14th on the career list with 555 home runs. He went 1 for 17 (.059) in five games last season for Tampa Bay, which had signed him to a one-year deal worth $2.02 million. He's a career .312 hitter with 1,831 RBIs.

"He certainly could give us a presence in the middle of the lineup that we don't have now," Melvin said. "He's been a dominant hitter for years. There are a lot of appealing reasons to do it."

Melvin said Ramirez will remain in extended spring training while he serves his suspension, though he foresees having him work out with the team in Oakland on occasion.

"To get him ready for a 50-game layoff doesn't make sense," Melvin said. "He's a guy who, over the course of his career, jumps out of bed in December and hits. He's one more guy to add to the mix."

In signing Ramirez, Beane said he relied on people who had firsthand experience with him.

"They came back with some great positives," he said. "This wasn't a PR move. It was needing a fourth hitter in the lineup who could hit."