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Can a Hot Start By Manny Ramirez Accelerate His Return to the Majors?

PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 10:  Manny Ramirez #1 of the Oakland Athletics before the start of a spring training baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds at the Phoenix Municipal Stadium on March 10, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Josh SchochAnalyst IIIJuly 10, 2013

When Manny Ramirez signed a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers earlier this week it didn't seem as though he could offer much help to the team as a 41-year-old.

That might not be the case.

Ramirez looks good in Triple-A, hitting the first pitch he saw for a line drive single and hitting his first home run on Tuesday night.

 

Manny Ramirez just homered for Round Rock. Maybe he can help Rangers (although word is he's not coming up real soon).

— Danny Knobler (@DannyKnoblerCBS) July 10, 2013

 

Manny went 2-for-2 with a home run, a single and a bases loaded walk in his first three at-bats with three RBI.

Ramirez has been looking good after returning from Taiwan, where he hit .353 with eight dingers and 43 RBI in 49 games, helping the EDA Rhinos win the first half championship a year after finishing 31 games back.

Talk about production.

While the pitching Manny was facing in Taiwan wasn't exactly MLB-caliber, it was still good to watch his bat come back to life and start belting home runs like this one:

Ramirez has come back a changed man. Not only has he appeared to become wiser with age, but he is now content to help others learn, as seen by him helping Mike Olt correct his swing.

Ramirez sounds completely different than the sideshow we came to know and love, instead sounding much more mature when talking to USA Today.

We all do a lot of things when we are young, but if you can make it through the fire, you are changed, made better and ready for anything else.

I am just happy, my wife is happy. I am working very hard and we'll see where it goes. But it is a fun ride.

The future is greater than the past.

We're dealing with a different Manny Ramirez than we've known in the past, and the transformation can be seen on the field as well, where he's playing much better than he did with the Tampa Bay Rays the last time he was in the MLB.

But can he really help the Rangers this season?

With Lance Berkman hitting the DL and the team in desperate need of runs, why not?

After losing Josh Hamilton and his .285 batting average with 43 home runs and 128 RBI, the Rangers offense isn't the same group that led the MLB in runs last year with 808. The team is down from 5.0 runs per game last year to just 4.4 this year, and that spells trouble.

The Rangers are currently a half game back of the Oakland Athletics and are in a dogfight for the AL West crown. However, without some help on offense it might not happen for Texas.

This is where Ramirez comes in. The team needs a DH, and he might be their best option at this point.

Ramirez batted .315 with seven home runs and 41 RBI in 62 games in Texas, finding more success at the Rangers' home park than most others. He has also gotten off to a fast start in the minors, showing that he could be MLB-ready soon.

If the Rangers drop a few games without Berkman and are desperate for some offense, it shouldn't come as a surprise if Man-Ram gets called up earlier than expected. Even if he's not called up soon, he should put up good numbers once he makes it to the MLB.

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