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Friday’s Morning Mashup: Manny Ramirez calls return to baseball ‘blessing’ after going 0-for-4 in minor league debut for Cubs

06.27.14 at 7:37 am ET

Welcome to Friday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Red Sox at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-AM)
MLB: Rays at Orioles, Game 1, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Nationals at Cubs, 4 p.m. (WGN)
MLB: Rays at Orioles, Game 2, 7:05 p.m. (MLB Network)
NHL: Draft, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
Track and field: U.S. Outdoor Championships, 10 p.m. (NBCSN)
Tennis: Wimbledon, 7 a.m. (ESPN)


Manny Ramirez made his debut as player/coach for the Triple-A Iowa Cubs on Thursday, playing left field in the second game of a doubleheader on the road against the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. Wearing No. 44 and batting sixth, the former Red Sox star went 0-for-4, reaching base on an error in his first at-bat before striking out twice and lining out in a 7-6 loss.

“They just made good pitches,” Ramirez told “But it’s been such a long time since I faced a pitcher, so it felt great.”

Said Ramirez: “It feels great just to be here … and to help the young guys [by] just telling them my experiences and the things that I’ve went through. It’s a blessing just to be here.”

It was Ramirez’s first professional game since playing in Triple-A for the Rangers last summer. He’s expected to play 1-2 times per week and possibly make additional appearances as a pinch-hitter.

“He’s a coach first and a player second,” Iowa manager Marty Pevey said. “He’s here to help our young players make the transition from the minor leagues to the big leagues and to show them how hard he works, how well he works, which he does an unbelievable job.”

Ramirez has 555 home runs in 19 major league seasons, but he also has a legacy of odd and offensive behavior. However, he claims he’s learned from his mistakes after finding religion, and apparently Cubs president Theo Epstein believes him. Epstein made it clear that Ramirez’s job is to mentor the organization’s top prospects, and the 42-year-old will not be called up to the majors, although Ramirez doesn’t sound convinced of that.

“As long as I’m here and I keep working, you never know what could happen,” Ramirez said. “I think God has a reason for me to be here. … He opened the door and I’m just here.”

— NBA commissioner Adam Silver already won over many players and fans when he banned Clippers owner Donald Sterling, and on Thursday night he made another positive statement by honoring Baylor center Isaiah Austin at the NBA draft.

Austin, the 20-year-old who had to give up basketball after recently being diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, was “drafted” by the NBA and had the chance to walk up on the stage like the other selections. It was an emotional moment for Austin and those watching.

“[Thursday] has been a dream come true,” Austin said. “I’ve met so many people that are supporting me, and they don’€™t even know me on a personal level. So it just shows the heart and character that all these people have. … Just being around all the draftees and seeing all my friends get drafted, it just brings joy in my heart because I know how hard we worked to get to this point.”

Players such as league MVP Kevin Durant tweeted their approval of Silver’s move. Wrote Durant: Adam silver is such as classy man! That’s love right there. I’m emotional for him. Damn I love that.

— The Padres held a memorial service for Tony Gwynn on Thursday at Petco Park, and 20,000 fans showed up to pay their respects to the Hall of Famer who died June 16 at the age of 54.

Former MLB stars Reggie Jackson and Trevor Hoffman were among those who addressed the crowd from a podium in right field.

“We all know Tony was a great player, a great Hall of Famer,” Jackson said, adding: “He was a genuine man, a quality man, a 100 percent family man. A great son, a great husband, a great father, a great friend and a great teammate. He was an example of what we all want to live and emulate as a person.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On June 28, 2003, the Red Sox made a trade with the Rockies to acquire which outfielder who went 4-for-5 with three RBIs in that night’s game against the Marlins (a 10-9 loss)?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “As Red [Auerbach] told me personally when I came in, ‘€˜You need instigators, not retaliators.’€™ This kid is energetic. He’€™s a bull. He’€™s a force. When I met him, he filled the doorway. He’€™s got that physique and that drive and that attitude that we really like around the Celtics.” Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck, on the team’s selection of Oklahoma State point guard Marcus Smart

STAT OF THE DAY: 4 — Shots by the U.S. soccer team — with only one making it on goal — during Thursday’s 1-0 loss to Germany in the World Cup

‘NET RESULTS (mobile users, check the website to see the videos): Chase Utley hits a walkoff home run in the 14th inning to lift the Phillies over the Marlins.

Wrigley Field gets enveloped in fog, allowing Cubs hitter Luis Valbuena to get a triple when his fly ball to center field disappears.

In the latest episode of “Foul Territory with Mark Teixeira,” the host has a little trouble trying to interview teammate Derek Jeter.

Brewers reliever Will Smith and friends perform a medley of songs by the other (more famous) Will Smith.

Will Ferrell shows up at a U.S. soccer rally in Brazil and says he’s ready to play for the Americans and bite every opposing player if needed.


SOOTHING SOUNDS: Chayanne was born on this day in 1968.

Read More: Adam Silver, Isaiah Austin, Manny Ramirez, Tony Gwynn