During the press conference to formally announce the Cubs new partnership with the South Bend Cubs, Theo Epstein fielded a question about Manny Ramirez’s future with the organization. Epstein said then that Manny Ramirez was interested in returning to the Cubs down the road in some capacity.
Ramirez reportedly made a connection with several of the Cubs minor league players, especially with Javier Baez, Jorge Soler and Arismendy Alcantara, during his time in Arizona and with the Iowa Cubs.
After announcing Tuesday that Mike Brumley would not be returning as the Cubs assistant hitting coach next season, Epstein was asked about the possibility of Manny Ramirez being hired as the team’s assistant hitting coach and work with former teammate Bill Mueller.
“Manny [Ramirez] has not decided to retire as a player yet,” Epstein said Tuesday. “We have a really nice relationship with Manny. He did an outstanding job with the organization this year. He continues to stay in touch, depending on what he wants to do with his career.”
Epstein was asked if Ramirez would be considered for the Cubs assistant hitting coach’s job. “I think I will wait to answer that,” Epstein said. “I want to see whether he wants to continue playing or not before I answer that question.”
Manny Ramirez recently reported to the Aguilas Cibaenas to play ball in the Dominican Republic this winter.
Theo Epstein left the door open for the possibility of the Cubs adding Manny Ramirez to the Major League coaching staff next season. The Sun-Times and Bruce Levine reported the Cubs might offer Ramirez the assistant hitting coach’s position.
And according to a report from the Sun-Times, Ramirez will work with Javier Baez on his hitting this season. Gordon Wittenmyer reported Manny Ramirez texted Baez and asked him to work with him this winter in South Florida. Baez accepted his invitation.
The Cubs plan for Javier Baez to be at second base on Opening Day at Wrigley against the Cardinals on April 6. The Cubs went over with Baez during his exit interview what they would like to see him work on this off-season.
“In the box he continues to learn the importance of swinging at strikes and swinging at pitches he can drive. I think he is fully aware of how he made the pitcher’s job easier by expanding the zone, both chasing breaking balls below the zone and importantly with fastballs up at the top part of the zone and beyond the zone up,” Epstein said in regards to Baez. “That is something that he is very aware of and knows it’s a priority for him heading into next year. He is aware that he wasn’t fully comfortable up here yet and that kind of mental awareness, self-awareness, I think is real important yet he knows it is coming. It’s just something you can’t speed up. You can’t press a button and say ‘get comfortable.’ You try that and it kind of has the reverse intended effect. He knows there is a day coming soon when he will be comfortable. He will apply himself and be a little more selective at the plate. Maybe make some swing adjustments for the sake of contact and he’ll still have the ability to be able to drive the ball out of the ballpark.”
Theo Epstein described Baez as a “extraordinarily talented and also very raw at the same time” when discussing him Tuesday. The Cubs expect Baez to make adjustments during the off-season he could not during his two-month call-up. And Baez apparently will turn to Manny Ramirez to help make those adjustments.