Manny ready to help where needed

MESA, Ariz. -- Only Manny Ramirez could draw a crowd as big as any current Chicago Cubs player, but he isn't interested in much of the spotlight anymore. He's finally ready to quit the dream of playing in the majors again and simply wants to help where he can.

"You cannot play for the rest of your life," Ramirez said on his first day of his new job as Cubs hitting consultant. "I just want to be in the game and help people and see people grow."

Surrounded by a couple of dozen reporters in the Cubs spring facility on Wednesday morning, Ramirez said he is committed to showing the team's much-heralded young players the right way to go about their business. It's not something he's always done himself, but when Cubs president Theo Epstein called him last year to help out in the minors, he took to his new role.

"When I came here with all the minor league players, I had a meeting and I went in and shared all the things that I went through so they don't go through that," Ramirez said. "Some people grow faster than others, but the good thing is you learn from mistakes and you're moving on. And you can tell the young players, 'Don't do this, don't do that. This has consequences.' That's what I did."

Epstein and Cubs ownership would not have signed off on bringing Ramirez back in a bigger role this year without positive reviews of his job as player/coach at Triple-A Iowa last season. They're satisfied Ramirez will be a good influence.

"He did a good job with us in Iowa," said Kris Bryant, who is widely regarded as baseball's top prospect. "Good to see his face again. He definitely knows what he's talking about."

Ramirez says he has no managerial aspirations and calls new Cubs manager Joe Maddon, "awesome, like [Terry] Francona." Maddon spent time with Ramirez when he signed on with the Rays in 2011 only to see him quit after being suspended for a second time for performance-enhancing drug use. But Maddon took a liking to him and now he's part of the Cubs organization.

"I'm just blessed by Theo and the family of the Cubs to bring me back," Ramirez said. "Just to come and give the things I've learned about the game, the good and the bad. And help these young players."