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New Tampa Bay Rays DH Manny Ramirez arrives

Manny Ramirez, who this week will sign his contract with the Rays, arrives at Tampa International Airport. The designated hitter says he has lost 12 pounds during the offseason. And as for joining the Rays? “It feels great.”

KATHLEEN FLYNN | Times

Manny Ramirez, who this week will sign his contract with the Rays, arrives at Tampa International Airport. The designated hitter says he has lost 12 pounds during the offseason. And as for joining the Rays? “It feels great.”

TAMPA — A fit-looking Manny Ramirez hit town Sunday night saying he is excited to be joining the Rays.

"Why not?" Ramirez said at Tampa International Airport. "It feels great."

The entertaining and enigmatic slugger arrived to finalize his contract with an official announcement expected in the next few days.

Ramirez, 38, has been working out in Arizona and looked to be in tremendous shape.

"I am. I am," he said. "Last year, I weighed like 237. This offseason, I'm down to 225, and I feel good."

The Rays are hoping so, planning for Ramirez to take over as the primary designated hitter and to add power to the middle of their lineup, motivated, in theory, by playing for just a reported $2 million after completing a two-year, $45 million deal.

Ramirez has hit well at Tropicana Field — .299 average, .623 slugging percentage and 1.003 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) with 21 doubles, 25 homers and 72 RBIs in 77 games. So the potential is there for more big numbers.

"We'll see," Ramirez said. "I've done all right (there)."

Ramirez hit .293 with 28 homers and 105 RBIs in 196 games over the past two seasons with the Dodgers and White Sox, missing time due to a suspension for using a steroids-related banned drug and injuries. The season before that, he hit .332 with 37 homers and 121 RBIs with the Red Sox and Dodgers.

Johnny Damon, the Rays' other primary free agent addition, is expected to arrive this week as the players have to take physical exams and complete paperwork.

New Tampa Bay Rays DH Manny Ramirez arrives 01/30/11 [Last modified: Monday, January 31, 2011 7:49am]
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