The Manny Factor


As I was standing at the fence watching Manny Ramirez take batting practice on Wednesday morning, it occurred to me that this was someone who looked rejuvenated. This was not the sluggish, injury-hampered Manny I saw playing for the Dodgers and the White Sox. This was a Manny who looked enthusiastic about the role he will play this year and the young players he will be helping to lead during the long season. Despite the apprehensions of fans and pundits, I did not get the sense that Manny was on track to be a clubhouse problem for the Rays in 2011. Will there be antics? I’m sure that even the Rays will not be immune to “Manny being Manny”. However, the veteran slugger looks focused and motivated by his reunion with former teammate Johnny Damon and the opportunity to mash it up with the face of the franchise – Evan Longoria.

It is unrealistic to have lofty expectations for the 38-year old slugger. His days of smacking in over 130 RBI’s are over. We’re not going to see 40-plus homeruns from the two-time World Series Champion. This is not 1999. This is not 2004. It’s 2011, and Manny is no longer in his prime. BUT…With that being said, he is still a presence at the plate. He is still a presence in the clubhouse (whatever the potentiality may be for good or bad). He is still a leader.

Despite injuries and reduced numbers, Manny is capable of tearing the cover off the ball at any given trip to the plate and trust me – he will make an impact on the field this year. The critics have awakened a sleeping giant who has plenty of reasons to address the growing chip on his shoulder. Coming up on his eighteenth year in the league, he has more reason to prove every naysayer wrong and really produce for this young team. It is also helpful that Tropicana Field is familiar terrain for Ramirez – who has sent his share of baseballs into the stands at the Dome. He knows the park and he’s comfortable hitting there. That’s a good thing.

Don’t expect outstanding numbers. Expect solid production and a clutch presence when it is needed most.

Posted on February 24, 2011, in The BLIP. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I think Manny is an excellent addition to the Rays, but only time will tell.

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