ST. LOUIS - Manny Ramirez isn't listed as an official coach on the Cubs' roster, but he's still having a huge impact on the team's postseason run.
Ramirez looks like he could still play (and he did as a player/coach with Triple-A Iowa last year), but the 43-year-old is spending his time coaching up young Cubs hitters right now, when he's not playing with the Cubs' Jonathan Herrera-inspired good-luck charm.
One hitter, in particular, threw a lot of credit toward Ramirez after a big-time performance in Game 2 of the National League Division Series Saturday.
Jorge Soler killed the Cardinals, doubling in the first inning before adding a two-run homer in the second (a dagger in the game) and a pair of walks. He also drew a walk as a pinch-hitter in Game 1 Friday night.
"Before I got hurt, it felt like I was swinging at too many bad pitches, and when I came back, I've been talking to Manny Ramirez about how to stay in the zone and he's helped me out a lot with that," Soler said. "Right now, I'm just trying to get my at-bats and working good counts and trying to get ahead of counts."
Others have taken note of Ramirez's impact on Soler, too.
"The coaching staff has done a wonderful job with him, especially Manny," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "I know Manny is in his ear all the time. So beyond our regular staff, whether it's our hitting coaches, I know that Manny has been there with them a lot, and I could definitely see a difference in the method that he's going about playing the game.
"It's beautiful to watch."
Soler hasn't seen much playing time since returning from a strained oblique that kept him out of action for almost a month from late August to the third week of September.
Soler appeared in just 11 games and totaled 26 plate appearances in the final month few weeks of the season, but he has yet to make an out this postseason, when the Cubs have needed him the most.
"I just see him totally engaged right now," Maddon said. "... I think he likes what he's seeing out there. And I just think you're seeing a more engaged player right now. That's the best way I can describe it."
Maddon also pointed to Soler going from first to third on a base hit in Game 1 as another sign the 23-year-old was "ready to go."
[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]
Catcher Miguel Montero went up to Soler in the dugout before Saturday's game and told the rookie, "you could have a really good game."
"He was right," Soler said through his interpreter — Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez. "After my at-bat yesterday, I felt pretty good at the plate; and getting an opportunity to play today, all I was trying to do is help the team win."
Soler said he didn't get too caught up in worrying about playing time down the stretch in the regular season as the Cubs hit their stride as a team.
"I just focused on how to prepare myself and how to get ready for each and every game in case I got the opportunity to play," Soler said. "And when I saw my name in the lineup today, I was ready."