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Manny settling into part-time role at Triple-A Iowa

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Manny settling into part-time role at Triple-A Iowa

DES MOINES -- Minus his trademark dreadlocks evident throughout much of his career, Manny Ramirez is settling into his new role as a part-time player with Triple-A Iowa.

Ramirez got his first look at Principal Park on Monday, and he did well in his debut, going 3-for-4 with a two-run home run in the seventh. He signed with the team May 25 after his agent received an offer from Ramirez's old boss, Theo Epstein, now president of baseball operations with the Cubs.

"I always wanted to come and help," Ramirez said. "Theo was really honest to me. He told me, 'Hey, we don't have a chance for you in the big leagues. You're going to be playing maybe once a week. But we've got some young guys we want you to help.'"

Ramirez, 42, ended his 19-year career with a .312 batting average and 555 home runs, last appearing, briefly, with Tampa Bay in 2011. For someone with those kind of statistics, a part-time role as a player/coach in the Minor Leagues might not be very attractive. But Ramirez says he enjoys the position.

"When you love the game and you want to help young players and give your testimonial to the things that you went through so they don't go through that, it's easy," Ramirez said.

Iowa's roster boasts some of the Cubs' top prospects, including Arismendy Alcantara, Javier Baez and Kris Bryant. Ramirez knows his role is to mentor the younger players and prepare them for life in the Majors.

While Ramirez is still getting to know the players, he has seen the ability of Alcantara, Baez and Bryant. When talking about those players, Ramirez said, "They've got such great talent. … It's unbelievable."

Bryant was a Red Sox fan growing up, and said he enjoys working with Ramirez.

"I think it's just a good resource for all of us, and we're all picking his brain here," Bryant said. "He's probably been through quite a few runs in his career when he's been 0-for-20 or 10-for-20, so it's good to learn from a guy like that and someone of his caliber."

Baez was pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to approach Ramirez.

"I thought he was going to be cocky, but he is just like another player," Baez said. "He is a great teammate to everybody."

As for playing time, Ramirez knows he won't see much of it as he goes from being an everyday player to a role player.

"It's different, but I like that challenge," Ramirez said. "I've always got to be prepared."

It remains to be seen whether Ramirez can display the tremendous power he once showed, but he said it wouldn't be easy.

"It's hard to just put [on] a uniform and make it happen," Ramirez said. "You've got to play every day, work on your timing, it's not easy."

Looking back at his career, Ramirez doesn't have any regrets.

"It doesn't matter how many times that you fall. You've still got to get up," Ramirez said, "and that's me. A bunch of people that fall, and they stay down. But I did get up, and I'm here and I'm going to enjoy it."

James Hilchen is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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