Official: Manny to play for team in Dominican

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — Former World Series MVP Manny Ramirez, who retired in April after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug, hopes to play for a winter league team in his Caribbean homeland.

Winston Llenas, president of the Cibao Eagles, a winter league team in the northern Dominican Republic for whom Ramirez played in 1993-94, told The Associated Press during a Tuesday phone interview that Ramirez is expected to start training with his former team next week.

Ramirez

Ramirez

Llenas said the 39-year-old Ramirez told team officials he wants to “play before the Dominican fans and to perhaps motivate other Major League stars to also play in the country.”

Ramirez retired in April after he tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance while with the Tampa Bay Rays. Rather than face a 100-game suspension for a second violation of Major League Baseball’s drug policy, the 12-time All-Star left the game.

Ramirez previously served a 50-game ban in 2009 with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

His first positive test — for human chorionic gonadotropin, a banned female fertility drug often used to help mask steroid use — would not prevent him from playing in the Dominican Republic.

Ramirez last played in the Dominican winter league during that 1993-94 season with the Eagles.

He also is facing criminal prosecution in Florida on charges that he slapped his wife during a recent argument. He told investigators only that he grabbed his wife by the shoulders during an argument and “shrugged” her, causing her to hit her head on the headboard of their bed.

Ramirez was named MVP of the World Series in 2004 and helped the Boston Red Sox end an 86-year title drought.

“It’s good to hear that Manny is going to the island to play,” former Dodgers teammate Matt Kemp told ESPNDeportesLosAngeles.com’s Enrique Rojas. “It shows he loves this sport a lot.”

Dodgers first basemen James Loney said: “It’s good any way you look at it. Manny Loves baseball and the Dominicans love Manny.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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