Bizarre report: Manny Ramirez might play winter ball

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ESPNDeportes.com’s Enrique Rojas has a report up presenting text messages from Manny Ramirez saying he’s interested in playing winter ball in his native Dominican Republic for the Aguilas Cibaenes.

The odd thing is that text messages were actually written more than two weeks ago, and Rojas gives no indication of whom they happened to be addressed to.

According to Rojas, Ramirez wrote the following text messages on April 11 and 12 respectively:

“Now I have an Aguilas hat.”
“Tell the fans to not despair because winter ball is coming soon.”

Rojas, though, did manage to get a direct quote from Ramirez on Thursday, saying “Now I’m getting ready to defend the 21st crown of the Aguilas.”

If Ramirez opted to return to MLB following his winter ball stint, he’d still presumably have to serve a 100-game drug suspension. Realistically, he’d only have the slightest chance of drawing minimal interest next spring if he got some team to do him a favor and sign him now, allowing him to serve the suspension over the rest of this season.

Cubs place Ben Zobrist on 10-day disabled list with back soreness

Ben Zobrist
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Cubs infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with back soreness. The move is retroactive to April 14. While it doesn’t appear to be the precursor to any serious injury, Zobrist has already missed six straight days of activity after feeling his back tighten up last weekend. Should he see the minimum time on the DL, as expected, he’ll be eligible to return by the start of the Cubs’ series against the Indians on Tuesday.

Prior to his injury, the 36-year-old outfielder raked an impressive .326/.408/.465 with three extra-base hits in 49 plate appearances. He last appeared for the Cubs during their homestand last weekend and helped propel the team to a 14-10 win over the Braves with three hits, two walks and two RBI. Provided that he can remain healthy going forward, it’s a promising start for the veteran outfielder, who has yet to return to the All-Star-worthy numbers he posted with the club in 2016.

With Zobrist sidelined for the time being, Ian Happ and Albert Almora Jr. have shared the leadoff spot and center field duties over the last week. Happ went 0-for-8 with six strikeouts in two games before passing the baton to Almora, who collected five hits and two RBI in 11 at-bats.