Link-O-Rama: Shinskie goes from pitcher to quarterback

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* A fourth-round pick in 2003, David Shinskie has opted to retire from baseball at the age of 25 to compete for the starting quarterback job at Boston College. Shinskie led his high school team to the Pennsylvania state championship as a senior and has four years of eligibility remaining after the 6-foot-4 right-hander went 24-30 with a 4.61 ERA in seven seasons as a minor-league pitcher.
* Shaquille O’Neal probably won’t be switching sports like Shinskie. Shaq threw out the first pitch in St. Louis yesterday and the baseball looked more like a golf ball coming out of his hands, but the 7-foot-1 right-hander fired a strike.
* Justin Duchscherer finally looks ready to make his season debut following spring elbow surgery and could get the nod as soon as Friday against the White Sox. Duchscherer was 20 innings short of leading the league in ERA last season, so a couple decent outings could make him attractive to contenders looking for a last-minute addition.
* Alex Rios joined the White Sox yesterday, but didn’t play against the Mariners and couldn’t talk rookie Gordon Beckham into giving up No. 15. Rios will go with No. 51 instead.
* Signed to a minor-league contract last month in the hopes that he could provide the Twins with a viable alternative at second base down the stretch, Mark Grudzielanek was released Monday after going 8-for-30 with zero extra-base hits and two errors in eight games at Double-A. Twins minor-league director Jim Rantz explained that “it just wasn’t the right fit.” Grudzielanek had a slightly different take, saying that “they just wasted my time.” Sounds like both were probably right, especially now that Minnesota is 54-58.
* Derek Jeter is apparently clutch off the field too.

Yordano Ventura’s remaining contract hinges on the results of his toxicology report

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 24: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning at Comerica Park on September 24, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports provides an interesting window into how teams handle a player’s contract after he has died in an accident. It was reported on Sunday that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. He had three guaranteed years at a combined $19.25 million as well as two $12 million club options with a $1 million buyout each for the 2020-21 seasons.

What happens to that money? Well, that depends on the results of a toxicology report, Rosenthal explains. If it is revealed that Ventura was driving under the influence, payment to his estate can be nullified. The Royals may still choose to pay his estate some money as a gesture of good will, but they would be under no obligation to do so. However, if Ventura’s death was accidental and not caused by his driving under the influence, then his contract remains fully guaranteed and the Royals would have to pay it towards his estate. The Royals would be reimbursed by insurance for an as yet unknown portion of that contract.

The results of the toxicology report won’t be known for another three weeks, according to Royals GM Dayton Moore. Dominican Republic authorities said that there was no alcohol found at the scene.

Ventura’s situation is different than that of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident this past September. Fernandez was not under contract beyond 2016. He was also legally drunk and cocaine was found in his system after the accident. Still, it is unclear whether or not Fernandez was driving the boat. As a result, his estate will receive an accidental death payment of $1.05 million as well as $450,000 through the players’ standard benefits package, Rosenthal points out.

Spring training will be slightly shortened in 2018

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - MARCH 15:  General view of action between the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants during the spring training game at Scottsdale Stadium on March 15, 2014 in Scottsdale, Arizona. The A's defeated the Giants 8-1. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The Associated Press is reporting that the spring training schedule will be shortened by two days starting in 2018. That change comes as part of the new collective bargaining agreement, which was agreed to last month.

Specifically, the voluntary reporting date for pitchers, catchers, and injured players has been changed to 43 days before the start of the regular season, down from 45. For the rest of the players, the reporting date is 38 days before the start of the regular season, down from 40.

The change goes hand-in-hand with allowing teams 187 days, rather than 183, to complete their 162-game regular season schedule.

While just about everyone seems to be in agreement that the spring training exhibition schedule is too long, team owners are likely very hesitant to shorten that part of the spring schedule because it would cost them money. So they’re just allowing players to arrive to camp a couple of days later.