PITTSBURGH - APRIL 05: Manny Ramirez #99 of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a seventh inning single while playing Pittsburgh Pirates during the Home Opener for the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 5, 2010 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh won the game 11-5. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Manny Ramirez
Manny Ramirez reported to the Texas Rangers' Triple-A affiliate on Thursday and said he could play as early as Sunday.
The Rangers agreed to terms on a minor league contract on Wednesday with the 41-year-old slugger, who hasn't played in the big leagues since 2011 with Tampa Bay.
Ramirez worked out with the Round Rock Express and told reporters he hopes to play Sunday or Monday.
"The expectation is to come here and play the game," Ramirez said. "Then hopefully I can move on and do what I always do."
Ramirez has twice been suspended for testing positive for banned drugs. The 12-time All-Star was suspended 50 games in 2009 while with the Dodgers after testing positive for a banned drug. He retired in April 2011 instead of serving a 100-game ban for a second positive test, but later agreed to a reduced 50-game suspension and played in the minors for Oakland in 2012.
"You have to go through the fire first," Ramirez said. "When you come out, that's when the blessing comes."
A lifetime .312 hitter, Ramirez is 14th on the career home runs list with 555. He hit 17 homers in the final 53 games of 2008 after Boston traded him to Los Angeles, but he has just 28 since then because of injuries and the suspensions. He was 1 for 17 without a homer for the Rays when the second drug suspension hit two years ago.
"It will be interesting to see if he can help this team win," Rangers outfielder David Murphy said. "From what I've seen in the past, it's hard to believe that he can't help us."