Kyle Blanks high five

How will the Padres replace Adrian Gonzalez at first base?

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Maybe this is an unfair question, because the reality is they won’t be able to do so.

The Padres were 12th in the National League this past season with 132 home runs and 665 runs scored. Meanwhile, Adrian Gonzalez hit 31 home runs and drove in 101 runs — that’s 23.5 percent and 15.2 percent of their offense, respectively. Taking a quick look at their team page over at Baseball Reference and you’ll see that no other Padres player topped either 13 home runs (Will Venable) or 58 RBI (Chase Headley). That’s a huge void to fill.

Making matters worse is that Kyle Blanks, who many considered a logical in-house replacement for Gonzalez at first base, is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery. Dan Hayes of the North County Times writes that the Padres believe Blanks will be able to swing a bat by spring training and that his arm will be 75 percent by then. Still, it’s hard to count on him for the early part of the 2011 season. Meanwhile, Anthony Rizzo is unlikely to arrive in the major leagues until late in the 2011 season or early 2012.

With that in mind, Hayes expects the Padres to look for help in free agency. We’re not talking about high-profile types like Paul Konerko or Carlos Pena, but temporary stop-gaps like Troy Glaus or Xavier Nady would make some sense.

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.