Back to frighten pitchers who haven't seen him regularly in a few years, Manny Ramirez will try to get the Chicago White back to the playoffs.
As expected, the White Sox claimed the unpredictable but productive 12-time All-Star slugger on waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday, hoping his powerful bat, full of so many October swings and homers, can help them make a postseason push.
"Hopefully, he can come in here and give us some help," White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko said. "We need to make up some ground. There's no doubt Manny can hit. He makes any team better."
Chicago began a key 10-game road trip to Cleveland, Boston and Detroit on Monday night, although Ramirez is not expected to join the White Sox, his fourth major league team, until Tuesday. They began the day 4 1 / 2 games behind first-place Minnesota in the AL Central.
The 38-year-old Ramirez returns to the AL after spending parts of three seasons in Los Angeles, a stay that ended on a somewhat sour note. He batted .311 with eight homers and 40 RBIs in 66 games with the Dodgers this season, but was on the disabled list from July 20 to Aug. 20 with a right calf strain and missed 33 games.
His first appearance for Chicago will come against the lowly Indians, the team that drafted him and enjoyed his production for eight seasons. He'll then head to Fenway Park, where he was adored by Boston fans before he was traded to the Dodgers in 2008.
That summer, he hit .396 with 17 homers, propelling LA to a postseason berth.
The past two years haven't gone as well. Ramirez was slapped with a 50-game suspension after a failed drug test last year. This season, he has been slowed by leg injuries, which led to the Dodgers deciding to part ways with him for nothing in return.
Ramirez's salary is $20 million in the final season of a two-year contract, but only $5 million is due this year, with the rest to be paid over the next three years. He also had a full no-trade clause.
The White Sox were awarded a waiver claim on Ramirez last week, giving them until 1:30 p.m. EDT on Tuesday to complete a trade with the Dodgers.
In Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen's lineup, Ramirez will likely serve as the designated hitter and bat somewhere behind former Indians teammate Omar Vizquel. With 554 career homers, Ramirez will fit nicely into a batting order that already has Konerko, Alex Rios and Carlos Quentin.
"He's a Hall of Fame hitter," Konerko said as his teammates snacked and watched TV in the visitor's clubhouse at Progressive Field. "But just because we have him, we can't ignore the other aspects of the game. We've got to play defense, we've got to pitch. He's a great piece to have but we can't let down anywhere else."
A fan favorite when he arrived in Los Angeles, Ramirez left with little splash. He hadn't started a game since Wednesday at Milwaukee. And in his final game with the Dodgers, he was ejected as a pinch-hitter after arguing a called strike on the only pitch he saw in Sunday's 10-5 loss at Colorado.
When he got to Los Angeles, Ramirez's reputation for being unpredictable made him an instant celebrity in the land of celebrities. He had a section of seats named in his honor at Dodger Stadium, where wigs imitating his dreadlocks became fashionable.
"Mannywood" was the place to be, and the star attraction put on a show.
He played so well down the stretch that he wound up with a two-year, $45 million contract from the Dodgers, but the injuries and failed drug test dampened his stay. Ramirez stopped talking to reporters in the spring, after he said this will be his final season in Los Angeles.
For the White Sox, who finished third in their division last year, Ramirez is a low-risk gamble with a potentially high reward.
If Manny is no longer Manny, they can simply let him go as a free agent at the end of the season.