If the Rangers have any lingering doubts as to whether Manny Ramirez is playing it clean in his comeback bid, they should soon know the answer thanks to a curiously timed random drug test during the slugger's first week with Triple A Round Rock.
A source said on Thursday that all players who weren't on the 40-man roster were subjected to a drug test earlier this week. Included in the group was Ramirez, who twice has failed tests for performance-enhancing drugs.
General manager Jon Daniels declined to comment on the timing of the test, but said that the word from Round Rock indicates that Ramirez, 41, has been a model citizen after signing a minor-league contract last week with no guarantees of getting a promotion to the Rangers' roster.
"The reports have all been very positive," Daniels said. "The guys say he's been in the cage early and often, and generally has been a good influence."
Ramirez, who has shorn his hair to comply with the Rangers’ minor-league code of conduct, was batting .250 (3 for 12) entering a game Thursday at Omaha. He homered and drove in three runs Tuesday.
But the Rangers aren't ready to make a knee-jerk reaction based on Ramirez's early returns.
"I don't have high expectations, and I don't have low expectations," Daniels said. "It's truly a situation where we didn’t have anything to loose by taking him. There's a chance he makes a contribution, but we're taking it day by day. It'll be a few weeks before we know if he'll be able to contribute."
-- Jeff Wilson