All eyes will be on Manny Ramirez and the Oakland Athletics in Spring Training as the veteran slugger attempts to come back from a steroid suspension. Once arguably the most feared hitter in baseball, Ramirez has not played competitively in nearly a year and will take some time to get his timing back at the plate. With a 50-game suspension looming, he will have plenty of time to work in the batting cages.
Susan Slusser of SFGate.com caught up with Ramirez, manager Bob Melvin and a few others to discuss Manny being in camp:
After his two plate appearances in the Cactus League opener, Ramirez said that his timing was better than he had expected and that he was happy that he was seeing the ball well.
"I feel great," he said. "I made contact."
Ramirez saw only three pitches in his two at-bats, and manager Bob Melvin chalked that up to being anxious to do something right away with a new team. Melvin noted that Ramirez's first grounder was hit "on the button."
Melvin anticipates Ramirez playing essentially every other day in Arizona, which probably translates to most home games.
"He needs some consistent at-bats early on so we can get an early read," Melvin said.
Ramirez has plenty to prove in 2012 and most are in the belief that he will not be able to make much of a comeback after missing so much time. Should Manny get his swing back, he could provide the A's with a substantial boost from the DH slot in the lineup. That is far from guaranteed, though, and it will be up to the 38-year old slugger to put the work in if he hopes to have any shot at doing so.
For more on Ramirez and to discuss the A's in Spring Training, head over to Athletics Nation.