But teammates talk about Manny more as a guru than a goof, and view him as an expert on the game’s psychological side. “He shows young kids how to be patient hitters,” says team captain Hu Chin-Lung. “These guys used to swing at the first pitch, but he’s teaching them how to wait for the pitch they want to hit, how to watch pitchers and anticipate what they’ll throw in the next at bat.” Right fielder Koa Kuo-Hui says Manny helps him with “mental stuff.” When Kuo-Hui was in a slump, he says, Manny told him to “be happy when you’re playing,” and recommended a Bible verse.
After three months as the single most popular person in Taiwan, Manny Ramirez will leave the EDA Rhinos by week’s end. Weep not, Manny fans, because he’s probably headed for the greener, more lucrative pastures of Japan.
We’re still struck by how fully fans embraced Ramirez, even if they initially couldn’t tell him from another dreadlocked Dominican ballplayer. But it couldn’t last. The Rhinos had only signed him to a three-month contract (expiring June 30), one that allowed him to break it in order to sign with at team outside Taiwan.
The Rhinos’ statement on his leaving the team says only that Ramirez has been “homesick.” But according to the indispensable Manny Does Taiwan blog (which hopes to keep operating under a different name), Ramirez has been pursued by the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan’s NBP. And Chiba can pay him a hell of a lot more than the $25,000 a month he was making in Taiwan.