February 24, 2015 / 9:09 PM / 4 years ago

Cubs hire Manny Ramirez as hitting consultant

Former Oakland Athletics' slugger Manny Ramirez of the Dominican Republic warms up as he prepares to take batting practice before the start of their first spring training game at Phoenix Municipal stadium in Phoenix, Arizona, in this file photo taken on March 2, 2012. REUTERS/Darryl Webb

(Reuters) - Manny Ramirez, a sweet-swinging former Major League Baseball player who twice failed doping tests, is back in the big leagues as a hitting consultant for the Chicago Cubs, the team said on Tuesday.

Cubs president Theo Epstein, who ran baseball operations in Boston when Ramirez starred for the Red Sox, said the ex-player will spend most of spring training with the Cubs and work with the team’s major and minor league hitters during the season.

Ramirez, 42, joined the Cubs organization last season as a player-coach at Triple-A Iowa and the major league team was impressed by his impact.

“Manny got rave reviews from everybody he worked with (at Iowa), from the young hitters he helped influence to the coaches who he spent a lot of time around,” Epstein said.

“He was very open and honest with guys about what not to do from his past and lessons he learned along the way. He was a huge asset, and we were really hopeful of the possibility of bringing him back.”

Ramirez, who slugged 555 home runs with a career batting average of .312 in 19 years in the majors, was twice a World Series champion with the Red Sox and the 2004 Fall Classic MVP.

Epstein said Ramirez, whose sometimes lackadaisical attitude in his playing days spawned the phrase, “just Manny being Manny,” has matured.

“In Manny’s case, the real changes he made in his life — his habits, his outlook, his behavior, taking more responsibility and accountability for things he did — made us interested in the first place,” the Cubs executive said.

The Cubs also announced on Tuesday they have added another former Red Sox player, Kevin Youkilis, 35, as a part-time scouting and player development consultant.

Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue

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