Manny Ramirez said he wanted to wear No. 7 as an Oakland Athletic, but that was taken, by Adam Rosales. So he took No. 1 instead, which was also taken, by club factotum Phil Garner.I guess we know where Rosales, Ramirez and Garner stand in juxtaposition then. Beyond that, we are taking Ramirez at his word that he wanted to come back to the game with more dignity than he left last year, that he found God through a difficult time with his family last fall, and that his sixth new start will be an enduring one.Im thankful I have a job, he said with a laugh. God said he would open a door for me, and he did.Gods position on the Oakland As has always been under some question, but if Ramirez said his family and faith are what drove him to play one more year, and to make one last stab at redemption, well, that will have to be the story until proven conclusively either way.
Ramirez signed a pro-rated 500,000 contract with the As for what ostensibly will be the final 112 games of the season. He must first sit out a 50-game drug suspension, presumably in an extended spring session and then a 10-game minor league rehab. Upon arriving in Oakland, as he is expected to do at the end of May, he will take on what may well be the last leg of his full rehabilitation.A rehabilitation, he knows, that will not sit well with everyone.I know people are going to say things, he said, but I think every problem, when it happens, it has to happen. You have to reflect on your life, and I didnt want it (the baseball career) to end that way.That way was the shame of Tampa, where he signed with the Rays only to quit in advance of the positive drugs test and essentially miss the entire season. He looked as done as done can be, because nobody would take a chance on a 39-year-hitter with his on- and off-field resumes.Except that done is a very flexible concept in baseball, especially in Oakland. Billy Beane found the right vehicle at the very right price, and offered in exchange a way for Ramirez to try and salvage some of the reputation that has both enriched and endangered him.Indeed, 2011 was about as bad as it could have been for him, between the baseball meltdown and domestic violence charges last September, which presumably caused Ramirez and his wife Juliana to reassess the direction of his life.It apparently took, as she and their sons, Manny Jr. and Lucas, joined him at his impromptu presser.Indeed, while he talked with reporters, Juliana threw batting practice to the boys. Apparently Garner, still stung by the appropriation of his number, was not available.We kid. Pretty much.Of course, with Ramirez, the danger of taking anything at face value is ever present, but there is currently no indication that he views his Oakland year as anything other than that last crack at redemption. It may be too late for too many people, but its what is available to him, and he has chosen not to look a gift door opened by God to Papago Park in the mouth.And if he is bitter about the turn his life took last year, he certainly betrayed none of it, even when asked about Milwaukees Ryan Braun, whose appeal of a drugs suspension was upheld Thursday by an arbitrator.Thats good for him, Ramirez said of Braun, who held his presser to a larger crowd in Maryvale than the one Ramirez entertained in Phoenix. Now he has a chance to clear his name, and that happened for a reason. We are all men, and we make mistakes. Im happy for him because hes a great guy, and a great ballplayer. Im sure his family went through a lot, and Im happy he is clean.And somewhere he hopes someone is saying that about him. If not now, then eventually. If not in Oakland, then maybe a seventh team. Doors always seem to swing open when someone can pick up a bat and hit balls over the center field wall.