LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — Manny Ramirez is making his long-awaited comeback to the baseball diamond — in Japan.
Ramirez, 44, has agreed to terms with the Kochi Fighting Dogs of Japan’s independent Shikoku Island League.
ESPN posted a photo late Sunday showing the former Major League Baseball star in his new uniform.
The four-team Japanese independent league is based in Shikoku, the smallest and least populous of Japan’s four main islands.
The Dominican-American slugger last played for Taiwan’s Rhinos in 2013, .hitting .352 with eight home runs and 43 RBIs.
Ramirez’s wife, Juliana, told TMZ last month that he has been training “extremely hard” for his comeback.
A video of Ramirez in a batting cage last month seemed to confirm Ramirez was preparing to play again — and that he still has some pop in his bat.
Ramirez finished his 19-season major league career with a .312 batting average, 555 home runs and 1,831 RBIs. A 12-time All-Star, Ramirez helped the Boston Red Sox win World Series titles in 2004 and ’07, the first for the franchise since 1918.
On the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time this year, Ramirez was suspended for 50 games in 2009 while with the Los Angeles Dodgers for using a banned female fertility drug.
He retired in 2011 rather than face a 100-game suspension after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. He applied for reinstatement that December, and his suspension for the second failed test was cut from 100 games.
Some social media users pointed out the similarities between Ramirez’s overseas comeback and the plot of “Mr. Baseball,” in which Tom Selleck’s character is traded to a Japanese club in the twilight of his baseball career.
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