PHOENIX -- Manny Ramirez claimed to be a changed man after reporting to A's camp and participating in his first workout with the team Friday.

It appears "Manny being Manny" will entail a more humble player just happy to get another major league opportunity.

"Sometimes you don't appreciate what you have until you're about to lose it, and that's what happened to me," said Ramirez, trying to revive his career on a minor league deal with the A's.

Ramirez was partly talking about baseball but also about turning around his personal life.

His Hall of Fame-worthy career has been tarnished by two positive tests for performance-enhancing drugs, a domestic violence charge and a volatile temper that has led to other off-field issues. Ramirez can't play a regular-season game until serving a 50-game suspension that ends May 30.

He's grateful the A's are giving him that chance.

"I think God was waiting for the right team, where the blessing was going to be," he said. "That's why I'm here."

Ramirez, who turns 40 on the day his suspension ends, slipped quietly in the A's clubhouse Friday morning and was changing into his uniform before many teammates likely knew he was there.

He will wear jersey No. 1, not the No. 99 he wore with the Dodgers and White Sox that more reflected his eccentric personality.

"He didn't want 99," A's equipment manager Steve Vucinich said. "He wanted to start fresh and '1' starts everything."


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Longtime A's fans might note the irony of Ramirez -- who has a reputation for lackadaisical play at times -- wearing the same number worn by legendary Oakland manager Billy Martin, famous for his intensity. Longtime second baseman Dick Green also wore No. 1.

Ramirez's long dreadlocks are still in place. And if there's anything to glean from his first batting practice, his bat still has pop. Ramirez hit seven homers, including two to dead center that easily cleared the 410-foot sign at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

A's manager Bob Melvin said he was impressed with Ramirez's attitude after meeting him Friday for the first time. Addressing Ramirez's reputation for being a malingerer at times, Melvin said:

"I told him one (rule) is all-encompassing that all our guys know. I expect them to bust it down the line every single time. He said, 'I'll be the last guy you have to worry about.'"

Ramirez repeatedly referenced his newfound relationship with God while addressing reporters and said he feared he would lose his family because of his past mistakes.

He was arrested on domestic violence charges in September after allegedly striking his wife, Juliana.

That came after Ramirez retired in April after his second failed PED test while a member of the Tampa Bay Rays.

He applied for reinstatement from the retirement list in December, and Major League Baseball reduced his 100-game suspension to 50 games.

Ramirez and his wife are fine now, and Juliana stood behind Ramirez as he answered reporters' questions, occasionally wrapping her arms around him.

Ramirez's two sons, Manny Jr., 9, and Lucas, 6, were nearby.

"I was at the (point) where I was going to lose my family," Ramirez said. "I lost my career. Me and my wife, almost every Thursday at 5 a.m., we would go to church and kneel down and ask God for another opportunity. And he listened, and that's why I'm here."

Ramirez's agent, Barry Praver, said: "He found a new faith and with it a new direction. He's very appreciative and grateful that (G.M.) Billy (Beane) and the A's gave him an opportunity to redeem himself."

The question remains whether Ramirez, who ranks 14th all-time with 555 homers and has a .312 career average, can still hit major league pitching. Or whether he will impact the A's season after missing nearly one-third of it on suspension.

Ramirez can play in spring training games and will stay in Phoenix to play in extended spring training games once the regular season starts.

"I understand he can be a great example in the (batting) cage," Melvin said. "We have some younger kids. Maybe something will rub off."

A Troubled year

A timeline tracing Manny's ups and downs during the past 13 months:
Jan. 21, 2011: Agrees to one-year, $2 million deal with Tampa Bay Rays.
April 8, 2011: Retires from baseball after again testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.
Sept, 29, 2011: Formally charged with a misdemeanor count of domestic violence for allegedly slapping his wife, Juliana.
Jan. 20, 2012: ESPN Deportes reports that A's are "very interested" in signing Ramirez to be their primary designated hitter.
Monday: Agrees to terms with A's on a minor league contract.
Friday: Reports to A's spring training site, describing himself as a changed man.
Note: Will be eligible to play May 30 after serving a 50-game suspension. It'll also mark his 40th birthday.

By the numbers

1 Number Manny will wear with the A's.
40 Manny's age when he's expected to make his regular-season debut with the A's on May 30.
50 Games Manny will be suspended for violating the league's substance abuse policy.
555 Career home runs, which ranks 14th all time.
500,000 Expected salary if he makes the A's roster.