Baseball: Ex-Boston slugger Ramirez heads to Taiwan

Former Boston Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez has joined Taiwanese outfit EDA Rhinos in a major boost to the island's favourite sport, the team said on Tuesday.

Ramirez, who slugged 555 home runs with a .312 batting average in his Major League Baseball (MLB) career, was greeted by scores of cheering fans late Monday at the airport in the southern city of Kaohsiung.

The 40-year-old from the Dominican Republic announced his retirement from Major League Baseball in 2011 after his second violation of the MLB's anti-drug programme but later signed a minor league deal with the Oakland Athletics.

"He will play one season at first and is very likely to continue.... He wants to have a venue to prove that he can play," said team manager Yang Sen-lung.

Yang declined to disclose Ramirez's pay but local media said he would receive a monthly salary of about $25,900 in addition to other perks such as rent-free accommodation and two full-time bodyguards.

The team has said that Ramirez, scheduled to play his first match as early as March 27, will help boost revenue in Taiwan's Chinese Professional Baseball League, hit by a series of match-fixing scandals since 1997.

Ramirez played in Taiwan during several exhibition games in 2010 pitching the visiting LA Dodgers against local teams.

The 12-time All-Star was named Most Valuable Player in the 2004 World Series, helping the Red Sox to their first title since 1918.