The beginning of the end is still a beginning, even if it begins in Taiwan.
Former MLB star Manny Ramirez said Tuesday he is "starting a new beginning" after signing a short-term contract to play with the EDA Rhinos in Taiwan's professional baseball league.
The Rhinos said Ramirez, 40, will earn $25,000 a month to appear with the team during this year's March-November season.
Speaking at a news conference in the Rhinos home town of Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan, Ramirez said he felt "blessed" about the opportunity to play in Taiwan, where he will earn about 1/100th of his salary during his MLB heyday.
"I don't think about the money and contract," the Dominican-American said. "I just think it is a great opportunity for me and the fans."
Ramirez's arrival in Taiwan is the latest stop in a 22-year career that has seen him morph from a promising hitter in the Cleveland Indians organization to a bona fide star with the Boston Red Sox, and a huge attraction with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox.
In 2004 he helped lead the Red Sox to their first world title since 1918, and was named the Most Valuable Player in the World Series.
His last major league appearance was with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011, where he went 1-17.
But Ramirez has been dogged by serious problems off the field, earning lengthy bans for drug abuse in 2009 and 2011.
In 2012 Ramirez hit .302 for Oakland A's Triple-A affiliate in Sacramento but his contract was not renewed.
Taiwan's professional baseball league consists of only four teams, having been whittled down from a high of nine in 2008, amid a series of bribery and game-fixing scandals.
The Taiwan national team advanced through the first round at this year's World Baseball Classic, but failed to get past qualifiers Netherlands and Japan during this past weekend's games in Tokyo.
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.