Long before Puigmania, there was Mannywood.
While the former continues on into July, worlds may soon collide as Manny Ramirez signed a minor league contract with the Rangers on Wednesday. The 41-year-old was assigned to Triple-A Round Rock, where he will report today.
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Manny last played in the majors in 2011, appearing in just five games with the Rays. Most recently, Ramirez played for the EDA Rhinos of the Chinese Professional Baseball League. There, he hit .352 with eight home runs and 43 RBI in 49 games.
"It’s a no-risk flyer in a lot of ways," Rangers GM Jon Daniels told the Dallas Morning News. "Our history, we like giving guys second chances. We know on and off the field the good and bad of Manny's career, but we're inclined to give him an opportunity here."
What Ramirez has left is still to be determined. The Chinese Professional Baseball League is the premier baseball league in Taiwan, but it's still a long way from Major League Baseball, both figuratively and literally.
For his part, Manny seems energized and ready to give it the old 41-year-old-returning-to-college try. And, as Daniels laid out, if he doesn't give it an honest effort and play the right way he'll have been a low-cost gamble that didn't work out.
He should be viewed similarly in fantasy. Given all the unknowns about his present-day ability, drive, etc., he's not a must-own but rather a speculative add in AL-only and deeper mixed leagues. If he fizzles out, then no harm, no foul. But if he can recapture some of that previous magic for a few months he'll be a productive member of a fantasy squad.
It turns out Yasiel Puig can be stopped after all. It just takes a concrete wall to do it.
Puig sustained a bruised left hip and thigh when he ran into the outfield wall while making a catch in Wednesday's game. He stayed in the game but was later removed, and X-rays on the leg came back negative. He's considered day-to-day.
Though on different scales, the injury is reminiscent of the one Bryce Harper sustained earlier this season. It comes with the territory for these types of players -- sometimes the line between maximum effort and recklessness gets blurred, and that's when injuries occur. Puig was lucky to escape with some bruises; Harper was less fortunate.
With other viable options on the bench -- though there's only one Puig -- there's no reason for the Dodgers to risk further injury by playing him if he's less than 100 percent, so it's likely the 22-year-old will get a day or two off. If you own the Cuban product in a daily league, monitor his situation closely in the coming days.
For Whom Heath Bell Toils
The never-ending hunt for saves saw two familiar faces called on to nail down a win on Wednesday.
Heath Bell and Tom Wilhelmsen both recorded saves for their respective teams, and both with little trouble. Bell allowed just a two-out single in closing out the Mets, while Wilhelmsen pitched a perfect 10th inning to lock it down against the Rangers. The saves for Bell and Wilhelmsen were their 15th and 17th, respectively, on the season.
Despite the fact that both were given second chances, the two are likely headed in different directions in the coming weeks. Wilhelmsen, after a down June in which he blew three saves while compiling a 10.97 ERA, worked his way back into Mariners manager Eric Wedge's good graces and, barring another meltdown, should have a hold on the job going forward.
Bell, on the other hand, seems to be keeping the seat warm until J.J. Putz is ready to go. Putz recently returned from the disabled list, relegating Bell to the eighth inning role in the process, but some issues with arm strength have kept him from being effective in the early going. Bell will receive the save opportunities in the near future, but Putz's presence and his own volatility make it a matter of time before he slides back into a setup role.
Both pitchers can be added for the time being, but Wilhelmsen is the one most likely to still have the gig come August.
National League Quick Hits: Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said it's "a possibility" Ryan Braun (hand) returns before the All-Star break. He was able to swing a bat for a second straight day on Wednesday ... Matt Holliday (neck) missed his second straight game on Wednesday. The Cardinals are confident the pinched nerve won't keep him sidelined much longer ... Brandon Beachy (elbow) threw an extended bullpen session on Wednesday. He'll likely be cleared to resume his rehab assignment soon ... A.J. Burnett (calf) doesn't think he'll require a rehab assignment. He could start as soon as Sunday or Monday for the Pirates ... Hanley Ramirez went 4-for-5 with a home run. The shortstop is hitting .412/.446/.753 in 28 games ... Matt Carpenter went 3-for-5 and, like Ramirez, fell just a triple short of the cycle. He's currently carrying a .398 on-base percentage ... Ricky Nolasco held the Braves to two runs over seven innings. It could be his final start in a Marlins uniform ... Yovani Gallardo is drawing interest from the Diamondbacks. John Axford, Jim Henderson and Francisco Rodriguez have come up as well ... Matt Harvey, despite evidence to the contrary, is human. The right-hander allowed five runs in a loss on Wednesday. He allowed seven runs in the entire month of April.
American League Quick Hits: Max Scherzer won his 13th game on Wednesday, moving to a perfect 13-0 on the year. Can you say AL All-Star Game starting pitcher? ... Alex Gordon left Wednesday's game with a head injury, possibly a concussion. A trip to the disabled list is likely ... Clay Buchholz said he "finally turned a corner" in his recovery from a right shoulder injury. A return shortly after the All-Star break might be on the schedule ... Chris Davis now has 32 home runs and 83 RBI on the year. He could set personal single-season highs in both categories by the All-Star break ... X-rays on Omar Infante's shin came back negative after exiting Wednesday's game following a collision at second base. He's considered day-to-day ... Alexi Ogando (shoulder) will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Round Rock on Saturday. The Rangers are still hoping to have him back before the All-Star break ... Kevin Gausman will remain in the Orioles' bullpen for now. He could be sent to Triple-A Norfolk when Wei-Yin Chen returns from the DL ... Dan Straily will make a spot start in place of Jarrod Parker on Thursday. Parker is still dealing with a right hamstring issue ... Mariners prospect and former No. 2 overall pick Danny Hultzen will be shut down for 10 days due to left rotator cuff irritation. He's made just one start in the last two months due to shoulder issues.
Have a happy and safe Fourth, everyone.