WEST SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Manny Mania hits West Sacramento on Friday night as Manny Ramirez makes his Raley Field debut for the River Cats.

“It doesn’t happen very often for us,” River Cats spokesman Mark Ling said of a player with Ramirez’s credentials suiting up for the Oakland A’s Triple-A team.

But when a major league star comes to town, the River Cats are ready to pounce.

“We’re expecting lots of people to come out,” Ling said.

The trademark dreadlocks and a baseball resume that includes 555 home runs and a .312 career batting average had fans hitting the box officer early to ensure a chance to see Ramirez.

“Adds a lot of shine,” fan Jim Shaw said. “It’s a good thing for the Cats and a good thing for Sacramento.”

And a good thing for business. Who can turn down buying a hat and dreadlock wig combo?

“We knew we’re gonna sell the T-shirts, we’re gonna have fun with the dreadlocks and the hats. It just brings a lot of excitement,” River Cats merchandise manager Rose Holland said.

Ramirez also comes with controversy. He’s been suspended twice for testing positive for banned substances and is coming off a 50-game suspension for his latest infraction. Ramirez, who turns 40 on May 30, sat out all of last season.

The A’s signed him as a low-risk option to add some punch to their lineup. The plan was for him to play 10 games with the River Cats and then join Oakland on May 30, but A’s manager Bob Melvin said this week that Ramirez may need some more time rounding into shape.

And that could mean more time with the River Cats. For a team with players usually looking to make a name for themselves, the River Cats have called on the bullpen for some help with the man known by just one name – Manny.

“The A’s are sending out some people to help out,” Ling said. “Manny is a big name, he’s won World Series. We’re expecting lots of fans, but we’re not really preparing any differently. We always expect a lot of fans.”

The River Cats host the Reno Aces for a four-game series starting Friday.

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