Manny Ramirez signs with club in Japan to revive playing career

Updated: 

Manny Ramirez will play professional baseball once again in 2017 - in Japan.

The former MLB star has signed a contract with the Kochi Fighting Dogs of the Shikoku Island League Plus, the club announced Monday, reviving a playing career that has been dormant since 2014 when Ramirez was a player-coach with the Chicago Cubs' Triple-A affiliate.

The SILP is a four-team independent league that is not associated with Nippon Professional Baseball, Japan's top-tier professional league.

Ramirez, 44, last played in the majors in 2011, when he made 17 plate appearances with the Tampa Bay Rays.

The 19-year MLB veteran is on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot for the first time this year, though he is not expected to carry the requisite 75 per cent of the vote for election.

Last month, Ramirez's wife, Juliana, hinted to TMZ that the former slugger had begun training to play again, stoking rumours he might try to stage an against-the-odds MLB comeback.