Manny Ramirez leaving Taiwan

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Slugger Manny Ramirez is leaving Taiwanese team The Rhinos after just 49 games because the club says he misses his family in New York.

His agent, however, told FoxSports.com on Wednesday that Ramirez wants to return to play in Major League Baseball.

"The reason he decided not to return for the second half was to free himself to be available to play in the United States," Barry Praver told the website. "This whole thing with Manny in Taiwan was a phenomenon. He invigorated the league. Attendance went through the roof. It was a very positive experience for both sides.

"Manny was so invigorated by his play there that he wants to return to the majors."

Ramirez hit .352 with eight home runs and 43 RBIs.

The Rhinos said they tried to keep the 12-time All-Star in Taiwan, including raising his monthly pay to almost $60,000 from $25,000.

Ramirez signed to play the March-to-November season with the Rhinos in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan. The team's website said the 41-year-old will depart Taiwan on Friday.

Rhinos manager Lee Chia-fan wasn't aware of Ramirez's future plans.

"We regarded highly of the contributions he has made here," the Rhinos said. "Although he is leaving us, he expressed the wish for the younger Rhino players to keep playing well."

Ramirez played 19 big league seasons and was selected MVP of the 2004 World Series, when the Red Sox won their first title since 1918.

His last major league appearance was with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011.

In an interview with local TVBS Cable Station from Kaohsiung, an unidentified Ramirez relative dismissed reports that the slugger will join Japan's professional team Chiba Lotte Marines, saying he only wanted to rejoin his family.

Taiwan's professional baseball league consists of four teams, having been whittled down from a high of nine in 2008 amid a series of bribery and game-fixing scandals.

Ramirez was suspended for 50 games early in the 2009 season with the Los Angeles Dodgers after testing positive for human chorionic gonadotropin, a banned female fertility drug popular among steroid users because it can mitigate the side effects of ending a cycle of the drugs.

Ramirez retired in April 2011 after testing positive for elevated testosterone, but said after the season that he wanted to play again. Major League Baseball and the players' union agreed he would serve a 50-game suspension, and Ramirez played in the minors for Oakland in 2012 before asking for his release in June.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.