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Updated: Tuesday, 12 Mar 2013, 12:56 PM EDT
Published : Tuesday, 12 Mar 2013, 12:56 PM EDT
KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan (AP) — Manny Ramirez said Tuesday he is "starting a new beginning" after signing a short-term contract to play with the EDA Rhinos in Taiwan's professional baseball league.
The Rhinos said the 40-year-old will earn $25,000 a month to appear with the team during this year's March-November season.
Speaking at a news conference in the Rhinos home town of Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan, Ramirez said he felt "blessed" about the opportunity to play in Taiwan, where he will earn on a fraction of the $20 million-plus he earned at the peak of his career.
"I don't think about the money and contract," he said. "I just think it is a great opportunity for me and the fans."
Ramirez's arrival in Taiwan is the latest stop in a career that has seen him morph from a promising hitter in the Cleveland Indians organization to a star with the Boston Red Sox and a huge attraction with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox.
He is a 12-time All-Star in 19 big-league seasons and was selected Most Valuable Player of the 2004 World Series, when the Red Sox won their first title since 1918.
His last major league appearance was with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011, where he was 1 for 17 at the plate before his season was cut short.
Ramirez was suspended for 50 games in May 2009 while with the Dodgers after testing positive for human chorionic gonadotropin, a banned female fertility drug popular among steroid users because it can mitigate the side effects of ending a cycle of the drugs.
He retired in April 2011 after testing positive for elevated testosterone, then decided after the season he wanted to play again. Major League Baseball and the players' union agreed he would serve a 50-game suspension. He signed a minor league contract with Oakland and hit .302 with 14 RBIs in 17 games with Triple-A Sacramento, then asked in June to be released.
Taiwan's professional baseball league consists of only four teams, having been whittled down from a high of nine in 2008 amid a series of bribery and game-fixing scandals.
The Taiwan national team advanced through the first round at this year's World Baseball Classic but was eliminated from a second-round group that saw Japan and the Netherlands advance to the semifinals.