The Oakland Athletics have granted slugger Manny Ramirez's request for an outright release, the Major League Baseball (MLB) team said on Friday.

Fighting to make a return to the major leagues after serving a 50-game suspension for violating the league's drug policy, Ramirez signed a minor league contract with Oakland in February and has remained with the club's Triple-A affiliate in Sacramento.

Ramirez, who was also suspended for 50 games in 2009 for violating MLB's drug policy, retired in April 2011 after being notified of a second drug-policy issue.

A popular figure with his flowing locks, big-hitting style and lively personality, the Dominican Republic native retired with a .312 batting average, 555 home runs and 1,831 runs batted in over a 19-year career that included a pair of World Series titles with the Boston Red Sox.

Ramirez made his name with Cleveland and Boston but had spells with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox and Tampa Bay Rays toward the end of his career.

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Peter Rutherford)