Manny Ramirez signs to play in Japan

Mannywood might be retired forever, but Manny Ramirez is not.

The talented and enigmatic slugger has reached an agreement to play for Japan’s Kochi Fighting Dogs, the team announced.

Ramirez, on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time this year, is expected to fall far short of election. As he would not be playing in the major leagues, his eligibility would not be postponed by the rule that prevents players from Hall of Fame consideration for five years after their major league career ends.

Ramirez, 44, electrified Los Angeles in 2008, when he arrived in a July 31 trade and batted .396 over the final two months of the season, leading the Dodgers to their first National League Championship Series appearance in 20 years. His 555 home runs rank 15th on the all-time major league list.

In 2009, he served the first of two suspensions for violating baseball’s drug policy. He has not played in the major leagues since 2011, although he did play 49 games in a Taiwanese league in 2013. He also has played in the minor leagues for the Oakland Athletics, Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs.

The Fighting Dogs play in an independent league on the island of Shikoku, the least-populated and smallest of Japan's four main islands. 

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

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