Manny set to join A's Friday

February 21, 2012, 5:23 pm
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PHOENIX -- Slugger Manny Ramirez is set to join the A's at spring training on Friday, the full-squad reporting deadline, manager Bob Melvin said in his morning conversation with the media.

Melvin said it's logical to assume Ramirez will be penciled into the lineup as the starting DH as soon as he's eligible.

"I dont know why he wouldnt," Melvin said. "I mean, he's been a dominant hitter for years, now we want to see what's still there and that's part of the evaluation process. But if everything went smoothily, and he swings the bat the way he has in the past, it would make sense."

First, Ramirez must serve a 50-game suspension for violating Major League Baseballs drug policy.

Because of the suspension, Melvin said it doesn't make sense to give Ramirez the majority of spring at-bats as Oakland's DH. They will be rotated among a number of players, he said.

"Really it's one more guy because it's not like he's going to come in and get every DH at-bat. To get him ready for a 50-game layoff doesn't make sense to give him all the at-bats," Melvin said. "He'll go through the regular batting practice, hit off pitchers like everybody else will, and we'll get him into games enough where we feel we can evaluate him.

"But, I don't feel like it's wise to give him every DH at-bat. You know, he's a guy that over the course of his career, is one of those guys who can jump out of his bed in December and hit. We'll have plenty of reps for him before we get to games, and then once we get to games, it's one more guy we have to add into the mix."

Notably, he didn't rule out Ramirez also making some occasional starts in left field.

Melvin said he likes the though of the veteran presence and work ethic that Ramirez will bring to the young roster, and respects the veteran's decision to return to baseball.

Asked if he was concerned Ramirez could be a distraction, Melvin said it's more an "excitement" for players, fans and media.

Ramirez will likely have a 10-game minor league assignment at some point. Melvin said he hasn't been informed of any specifics but that it would likely be with Triple A Sacramento.

Asked whether Ramirez is more attractive to the A's as a home run hitter or a guy with a high on-base percentage, Melvin said "all of the above."

"Whether or not he hits the amount of home runs -- and I think in our ballpark it would suggest they'd go down some -- but it's hitting the ball in the gaps, and driving in some runs. And you don't have to hit home runs to drive in runs.

"If we get all the way to that point, and he's DHing for us over the course of the season, he's certainly stability in the middle of the lineup, expereince-wise that we don't seem to have right now."

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