Wilson Ramos replaces Joe Mauer and makes some history with four-hit debut

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Joe Mauer is out for at least a few days with a heel injury, so the Twins called up 22-year-old prospect Wilson Ramos from Triple-A and he went 4-for-5 against the Indians yesterday in his big-league debut.
Ramos ranked No. 3 on my list of the Twins’ top prospects heading into the season, but was hitting just .179 with a poor 15/3 K/BB ratio in 16 games at Triple-A prior to the call-up. That makes his 4-for-5 debut pretty surprising, but even more amazing is that he’s the first player in 12 years to have a four-hit debut.
Better yet, I’m guessing 99.9 percent of baseball fans couldn’t name the last guy to do it. I certainly couldn’t, at least not before diving into Baseball-Reference.com for the answer. Go ahead, take your best guess. OK, ready? The answer is …
Derrick Gibson.
Exactly.
Gibson made his big-league debut for the Rockies on September 8, 1998 and went 4-for-4 in an 11-10 win over the Marlins. At the time he was only 23 years old, but Gibson played a grand total of just 16 more games in the majors, going 10-for-45 (.222), and was finished as a big leaguer the next season. He went on to spend 14 seasons in the minors before retiring in 2006.
Along with Ramos and Gibson, the other four-hit debuts belong to: Delino DeShields, Bill Bean, Kirby Puckett, Ted Cox, Mack Jones, Willie McCovey, Spook Jacobs, Cecil Travis, Russ Van Atta, Art Shires. That’s a pretty mixed bag, because for every star like Puckett, McCovey, and Travis there’s a Gibson, Bean, Cox, and Jacobs who essentially did nothing in the majors after their big debut.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.