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It's Manny Ramirez in the role of a lifetime

January 12, 2012 | 11:11 am

Manny

And now for his latest incarnation, it’s Manny Ramirez, role model! Honest to Charles Barkley.

There’s an image for you. Manny, the guy who sets a proper example, whose behavior every youngster should try to emulate. You know, minus his temper tantrums and twice being busted for performance enhancing drugs and being arrested on domestic violence charges.

It’s true, though, Manny wants back in baseball and to show everyone the right way to do things. He turns 40 in May, and they say it’s never too late.

But in a lengthy video piece with ESPN’s Pedro Gomez -- worth viewing if only to see him with his dreadlocks in a hair net and exercising in the pool with Florida retirees -- Manny talks of being a new man.

"I want to show people that Manny can change and he can do the right thing," he said.

Guess he could start by not talking in the third person. Or maybe I forgot what it sounded like to hear him speak, since he stopped talking to the media (and thus the fans) on an apparent whim his last season with the Dodgers.

When last seen at the plate, Manny was a ghost of his former fearsome self. He hit .261 with the White Sox the last month of the 2010 season after the Dodgers released him. He had one hit in 17 at-bats to start last season with Tampa Bay before his second PED bust and prompt retirement.

Now his suspension has been reduced to 50 games and he is trying to sign with a team to go out more on his own terms.

"I don’t want to leave the game like that," Manny told Gomez.

Asked why he wants back, Manny said: "First, I could still play. Second, I’m going to be a role model. A bunch of guys are going to look at me and say,'He made mistakes and he didn’t quit. Look how he finished.' "

The Dodgers, of course, have a bench pretty much devoid of power and could use a deep threat in reserve. I’d say the chances of his playing for the Dodgers next season are about the same as Zack Wheat, dead since 1972.

Asked if he’d be interested in bringing Manny back, Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said: "Not really. I love Manny but he was a huge distraction the last time he was here. I don’t think that’s what our clubhouse needs at this moment."

Manny and his wife have reconciled and he gets emotional talking to Gomez about almost losing his family. And he appears serious about his comeback, having dropped some weight.

"You don’t know what you have until you lose it," Manny said.

Or for some teams, you know exactly what you have and try to lose it.

Manny was a lock for the Hall of Fame who has now soiled his career so badly there’s something sad about his attempted reinvention. For his sake, may Manny get the finish he dreams of. Most teams, however, will probably search for their role models elsewhere.

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-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Manny Ramirez. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times.

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