It’s weird enough that New York Yankees’ infielder Yangervis Solarte‘s uncle is former New York Mets’ disappointment Roger Cedeno, but now we find out he is close with one of the wackiest baseball players ever to put on spikes too? The story of Solarte has been told and re-told dozens of times since he beat out former heir to the Captain’s throne, Eduardo Nunez in spring training. To make the story even more unbelievable, Solarte has been a constant force to be reckoned with the bat, ranking in the top five in multiple offensive categories through most of the first full month of the 2014 season. Will the dream end for Solarte soon? We don’t know. What we do know however, is that the career minor league infielder, has a special friendship with Manny Ramirez of all people. Yes, that Manny Ramirez. As much as Yankees’ fans were hoping it was the offensive lineman for the Denver Broncos, it is, yes, the “Manny Being Manny” Ramirez of Indians/Red Sox/Dodgers/PED-suspension fame.
The two men first crossed paths last season, when they were both minor league teammates in the Texas Rangers’ organization. Solarte trying to prove his worth for that initial call-up to the show, while Manny was once again trying to become a post-steroid slugging option. So when Solarte’s phone rang back at the end of March, he wasn’t shocked one bit to hear a familiar voice on the other end.
Hey, man, bless you. I’m happy for you and everything. I know you’re working hard for years and you’re waiting for that,” said Ramirez to Solarte. (h/t Brendan Kuty, NJ.com)
Solarte said that he and Manny became fast friends, and that the two men bonded over hitting techniques, work ethic, a language barrier-Solarte is still learning the finer points of the English language. The two men that had two completely different professional baseball backgrounds, enjoyed talking shop, and taking early rounds of batting practice. According to Solarte, Ramirez told him he had the tools to make it to the big leagues:
Every time, he said, ‘You can hit on both sides. I like to watch you hit. You can hit. You can play,’” Solarte said.
Ramirez offered hitting advice to Solarte–everything from stance, approach, to swing mechanics and grips. Solarte still recalls a simple adjustment that Manny asked him to make, resulting in Solarte putting baseballs into the stands during batting practice.
Solarte also says that he and Manny spoke to God–alot. The Yankees’ infielder says he doesn’t belong to a specific religion, but he prays often. He and Manny would pray during BP, while they stretched, before games, in the work out center. Solarte says that he and Manny remain in contact, and that Ramirez is still searching for another opportunity post-PEDs and multiple suspensions, to prove he can still be a monster at the plate. For the Yankees, whatever Ramirez did to help Solarte continue to develop, that is one time that “Manny Being Manny” can be forgiven.