Baseball notes: Manny Ramirez to play in Taiwan

Nationals free agent acquisition Dan Haren made his spring training debut and struggled in the first inning against the Marlins.
david phillip/associated press
Nationals free agent acquisition Dan Haren made his spring training debut and struggled in the first inning against the Marlins.

Former Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez has made a verbal commitment to sign with EDA Rhinos of the Chinese Professional Baseball League in Taiwan if he doesn’t land a major league deal by March 7, according to a report on ESPN Deportes.

Ramirez, who turns 41 May 30, hasn’t played in the majors since April in 2011, when he was suspended for testing positive for a second time for a performance-enhancing drug. Rather than serving the 100-game suspension and returning to the Rays, he announced his retirement.

He signed with Oakland last season but didn’t play a regular-season game, never progessing past Triple A.


He played in the Dominican Winter League and said he wished to return to the majors this season but drew little interest.

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Ramirez has 555 major league home runs and a .996 career OPS.

No charges brought

A grand jury in Dallas declined to indict the teenage son of Detroit Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter in a sexual assault case.

Darius McClinton-Hunter was arrested in May with four others in Prosper, north of Dallas, and accused of sexual assault. A Collin County grand jury indicated Wednesday there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute him.

McClinton-Hunter has denied the allegations. His attorney, Todd Shapiro, said that the 18-year-old was ‘‘elated.’’


‘‘He finally feels vindicated,’’ Shapiro said in an interview. ‘‘He knew from the very day he was arrested that he didn’t commit any crime.’’

Authorities in Prosper alleged that McClinton-Hunter, co-defendant Garrick White and three boys listed as juveniles were involved in a forced sexual encounter with several girls. The grand jury declined to indict all five people of sexual assault, attorneys for two of the defendants said.

The grand jury did indict White for unlawful restraint of a child.

Berkman set to go

Lance Berkman will make his spring training debut for the Texas Rangers on Thursday against the Indians in Surprise, Ariz. Berkman has been bothered by a mild right calf strain, and the Rangers have been cautious with the 37-year-old switch-hitter. He played only 32 games with St. Louis last season because of two operations on his right knee and a left calf strain. While being held out of the first six spring games, Berkman has still been going through workouts and some base-running drills. He is scheduled to be the designated hitter against Cleveland. Berkman said he feels good and is looking forward to getting into games. ‘You need some at-bats to kind of get a good gauge of where you are with your spring,’’ he said. ‘‘From a practice standpoint, I feel pretty good. But there’s certainly work to do and I'm sure I'll find that out [Thursday], just where I'm at, just in terms of timing and bat speed and all of that.’’ . . . Players association head Michael Weiner is skeptical that the Yankees will reduce payroll next year. Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner says the team wants to get under the $189 million luxury tax threshold in 2014. That means the player payroll would have to be about $178 million at most, using average annual values of contracts, since the total for the tax will include at least $11 million in benefits such as the pension plan. ‘‘I imagine that Mr. Steinbrenner is sincere when he says that, but like a lot of things, I'll believe it when I see it,’’ Weiner said. New York has paid $224.6 million in luxury tax since the current system began in 2003, including $19.3 million for 2012.

Haren roughed up

Dan Haren struggled with his command in the first inning of his Nationals spring debut, but was much better in the second of what turned out to be a 5-1 loss to the Miami Marlins at Viera, Fla. Haren, who signed a one-year, $13 million contract with the Nationals, threw mostly fastballs and cutters and gave up two hits and one run, while striking out three. He is trying to work on throwing inside more this season, particularly to righthanders . . . Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro pulled up lame with hamstring tightness in the fourth inning after pulling up on a ground ball uring an 11-7 loss to the Dodgers in Mesa, Ariz. . . . Outfield prospect George Springer hit a three-run homer off Jeremy Jeffress in the fourth inning and a two-run drive against Claudio Vargas in the fifth, helping the Astros beat the Blue Jays, 10-1, in Dunedin, Fla. Houston, 29th among the 30 teams in batting average last year, had 18 hits, including two each by Springer, J.D. Martinez, Matt Dominguez, and Carlos Corporan. Toronto starter Brad Lincoln was chased two outs into his spring training debut.

Missing link is back


The case of the missing sausage is closed. The Journal Sentinel in Milwaukee is reporting the 7-foot Italian sausage costume, usually seen racing around Miller Park during Brewers games, has been found after going missing for nearly two weeks. Guido, the sausage with the chef’s hat and bow tie, was dropped off a bar in Cedarburg, Wis., Wednesday night, hours after the missing costume became national news. Jen Mohney, a bartender at TJ Ryan's, said two men — one wearing a hoodie pulled over his face — lugged the costume into the bar, dropped it onto a stool and told her ‘‘You did not see anything.’’ She says they left quickly, and she called police . . . Before the Blue Jays-Astros game, singer Jeff Fuller messed up the lyrics to ‘‘O Canada’’ and ‘‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’’ Fuller’s first attempt at the Canadian anthem went awry when he lost track of the words. With some fans booing and others cheering, the tenor started over again in the middle of the diamond, but forgot the words and stopped. Fuller then began ‘‘The Star-Spangled Banner’’ and mixed up the words. He kept going and finished. The Blue Jays’ mascot greeted Fuller as he left the field.