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Manny Ramirez to make Australian baseball debut Thursday

Dec. 16 (UPI) -- Major League Baseball legend Manny Ramirez will make his Australian Baseball League debut Thursday with the Sydney Blue Sox.

The 48-year-old ex-Boston Red Sox slugger signed a one-year deal with the team in October. The Blue Sox start the 2020-21 ABL season with a game against the Melbourne Aces on Thursday at Blacktown International Sportspark in Sydney.

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Fans can stream the game at 3:30 a.m. EST Thursday at Sportsflickglobal.com.

Ramirez's decorated MLB career featured 12 All-Star selection, nine Silver Slugger awards, a batting title, two World Series wins and a World Series MVP award.

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He spent eight seasons with the Cleveland Indians, eight with the Boston Red Sox, three with the Los Angeles Dodgers, one with the Tampa Bay Rays and one with the Chicago White Sox.

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Ramirez's MLB playing career ended in 2014. He has also played in the Japanese Shikoku Island League Plus and Chinese Professional Baseball League.

The Blue Sox went 16-23-1 last season and finished in last place in the ABL's Northeast Division.

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"The big difference between this year and last year is the roster we do have is absolutely focused," Blue Sox manager Shane Barclay told the ABL website on Monday.

"They're putting in and playing for each other. The culture that has been created this year is five steps up."

The Blue Sox roster also features New York Mets prospects Carlos Cortes, Andrew Mitchell, Adam Oller and Manny Rodriguez. Detroit Tigers prospects Cam Gibson and Jacob Robson and Minnesota Twins prospect Lachlan Wells also are on the roster.

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Ramirez hit .312 and had 555 home runs during his 19-year MLB career. He announced his retirement in 2011 after he tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance, but later returned after the ban was rescinded.

Ramirez also served a 50-game suspension in 2009 after he tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance.

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