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Theo Epstein says Cubs vetted Manny Ramirez and his PED past

May 26, 2014, 12:15 PM EDT

SAN DIEGO — The Cubs are going into this with their eyes wide open, knowing Manny Ramirez failed two drug tests and once seemingly burned all his bridges with the Boston Red Sox.

Who else could give Red Sox Nation two World Series titles and still leave Fenway Park as the villain?

The Manny Being Manny act got so old that Theo Epstein traded Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the 2008 deadline as part of a three-way deal, getting rid of the clubhouse headache responsible for shoving the traveling secretary and fighting Kevin Youkilis.

The Cubs president of baseball operations believes his new player/coach at Triple-A Iowa has changed, coming clean to Major League Baseball and wanting to give back to the game. It’s part of the risk/reward system with a hitting genius, a no-doubt Hall of Famer if it wasn’t for the PED past.

“You never know in this world, but I think there’s potential high impact here,” Epstein said Sunday on a conference call. “If he can just influence one player, make them a little bit calmer in the box, give them a little bit better mental approach to hitting, teach him something about how to approach the right-handed breaking ball the right way. If he can convince one player not to do PEDs, if he can influence one player in the right way and the positive way, then it was worthwhile.”

[MORE: Cubs shock baseball world, sign Manny Ramirez as player/coach]

Ramirez twice violated the drug policy, though Epstein indicated the 12-time All Star cooperated with MLB officials, a factor that helped convince the Cubs to give him another chance.

“My understanding from afar is that players handle it in different ways. They’re sort of upfront about what’s happened or they can find excuses,” Epstein said. “We’ve obviously vetted the PED issue thoroughly, because it’s an important issue and it was a mistake that he made. All accounts were that he was extremely accountable, extremely cooperative, handled it with a lot of maturity. He was impressive in how he handled the whole thing after the fact and wanted to help.

“The signing was blessed by those people (who dealt with him). You take the time to talk to people who’ve been around Manny the last two years in particular, you find people who describe a mature, accountable person who wants to make up for mistakes in his past.”

If not, the Cubs won’t hesitate to end this experiment.

“Yeah, he’s going to be around some of our better prospects, that’s important, but it’s relatively low-risk as well,” Epstein said. “It’s something that if it doesn’t go well, we can terminate. But I think it will go well, and I think we’re doing this for the right reasons.”

  1. jacobknicks - May 26, 2014 at 12:30 PM

    It’s just the cubs being the cubs

  2. bringbackkosar - May 26, 2014 at 12:34 PM

    Awesome, Starlin Castro could take notes on being a head case from this guy!

  3. norvturnersneck - May 26, 2014 at 12:47 PM

    Nice video. Did you shoot it in the shower?

  4. plmathfoto - May 26, 2014 at 12:58 PM

    What I’m wondering about here, is how much did Sammy Sosa piss some one off? Here they hire Manny, but won’t let Sosa near the stadium, etc. and he played for them.

    • paperlions - May 26, 2014 at 1:20 PM

      Sosa has no relationship with the current owners or front office regime. I don’t think it is a question of who he pissed off so much as what he has done since and the fact that he has no relationship with anyone currently running the Cubs.

  5. tfbuckfutter - May 26, 2014 at 1:22 PM

    Why on earth would Manny inspire someone not to use PEDs?

    If anything he is the perfect example of why they SHOULD use PEDs. Only a couple players profited as much or more than Manny did while presumably using PEDs.

    • mmeyer3387 - May 26, 2014 at 1:55 PM

      You guys are so hung up on PEDS. To this day we only got one list, from a tainted Mitchell report. Still, we don’t know the true total players of the first test. You may have some of you favorite players on the list.

      • tfbuckfutter - May 26, 2014 at 2:18 PM

        Sorry for being obsessed with it and bringing it up for no reason.

        “If he can convince one player not to do PEDs, if he can influence one player in the right way and the positive way, then it was worthwhile.” -Theo Epstein referencing Manny Ramirez in THIS GODDAMN ARTICLE.

    • derklempner - May 26, 2014 at 9:38 PM

      My guess is that Theo said what he did about Ramirez not inspiring people to use PEDs because he truly believes Ramirez is sorry for what he did and wants to make amends for it. Theo says he vetted the account, so my guess is he’s bought whatever he’s been told by not only Ramirez but other people as well. I don’t think Theo is going to be heading into this situation even slightly blindfolded; we all know he has a long history dealing with Ramirez.

      This may mean Theo is being a bit foolish in believing Manny has changed. It could also mean Manny has really changed, and Theo is guessing correctly. I guess we’ll have an answer in the future if/when we see how much of an impact on the younger players Manny actually has.

  6. cohnjusack - May 26, 2014 at 1:27 PM

    He sure seems to be getting a lot of chances for someone who has long since been washed up, a 2 time busted steroid user and an pain in the ass of epic proportions.

    • yahmule - May 26, 2014 at 1:30 PM

      My thoughts exactly.

  7. chicagocane - May 26, 2014 at 1:30 PM

    He didn’t just have a previous relationship with this regime, it was a very successful relationship. I really could care less about the PEDs….

  8. nolasoxfan2012 - May 26, 2014 at 3:33 PM

    I always wonder when people who have been nabbed doing something are brought in to act as “role models” for others not long after. This stuff all went down with Manny just a few years ago. It’s not ancient history. He’s looking to rehabilitate his image in time for his HOF run. What is he going to say to players on the farm, “Look at me. I did all kinds of PEDs, had tons of success, made boatloads of money, won some world series…then got in some trouble and now, just a few years later, here I am telling you what not to do? Whatever you do, don’t be like me?” Seriously don’t get this.

  9. mikhelb - May 26, 2014 at 3:52 PM

    In reality he tested positive at least three times. Once in the 2003 test along Ortíz and Alex Rodríguez (and allegedly maybe even Bonds), once while with the Dodgers, and once with the Rays, though MLB reduced his suspension… odd considering they have tried to take ARod out of the game althogether.

  10. hoopmatch - May 26, 2014 at 4:39 PM

    It might not work out, but give Epstein credit for “thinking outside the box;” something everyone agrees with in principle but frequently derides in practice.

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