Manny Ramirez to officially join CPBL’s EDA Rhinos today

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By Joseph Yeh, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Legendary Major League Baseball (MLB) slugger Manny Ramirez was scheduled to attend a press conference today to officially join the EDA Rhinos (義大犀牛) of the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL, 中華職棒), the Kaohsiung-based team announced yesterday. Ramirez was expected to arrive at Kaohsiung International Airport in southern Taiwan around midnight Monday, the Rhinos said in a released statement yesterday.

A press conference will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday to officially announce the news and welcome the player to the Rhinos, it added.

The former Boston Red Sox outfielder may play in the team’s first home game in Kaohsiung on March 27, it noted. The Rhinos, however, refused to disclose the monthly salary for the 40-year-old future Hall of Famer.

Local media previously reported that the Rhinos is offering NT$750,000 (US$25,000) monthly salary to the ex-MLB All-Star — the highest any team in the local league has given to a foreign player. The ballclub said it has prepared a three-story, 660-square-meter mansion for Ramirez in Taiwan. The team has also arranged a chauffeur and vehicle that will be responsible for the player’s transportation in the country. Ramirez batted .312 with 555 homers and 1,831 RBIs in 19 MLB seasons before retiring from baseball in April 2011 after violating the MLB’s drug policy for a second time. Later in the same year he signed a minor league contract with the Oakland Athletics and served a 50-game penalty in Triple-A. He became a free agent after Oakland didn’t call him up to the majors midseason. Ramirez’s arrival at the Rhinos, a new CPBL team, is expected to boost ticket sales in the local league, which has been losing fan support following multiple game-fixing scandals over its 24-year history.