Manny Ramirez

Manny Ramirez is in the best shape of his life

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This is a bit of a stretch. Neither he nor his agent used those words, and that’s normally what triggers this kind of post.  But this is fun anyway: Marc Topkin, who covers the Rays for the St. Pete Times, waited for Manny Ramirez as he arrived at the Tampa airport last night:

He was pleasant enough as photographer Kathleen Flynn and I approached him as he stepped off the tram after flying in from Phoenix, and actually asked if I was there to pick him up. When I told him I’d seen a limo driver waiting for him downstairs, he laughed and said he didn’t need a limo, that was just a “humble” guy.

Ramirez was polite in a short chat as he rode the escalator, saying he “feels great” about playing for the Rays, talking about how he was in tremendous shape after extensive workouts at the Athletes Performance Institute in Arizona, and smiling when reminded of his exceptional numbers at Tropicana Field (48 extra base hits, 72 RBIs and 1.003 OPS in 77 games).

Ramirez played in the AL East for a long time. Topkin has covered the Rays forever, and is a very distinctive looking guy.  Ramirez has likely been in Topkin’s presence scores of times, and has almost certainly been asked questions by the guy.  In light of that, it cracks me up that Manny thought that Topkin was there to pick him up.

Someday I’d like to live in a world as magical as the one in which Manny Ramirez lives.  I bet everything there is fresh and new and wonderful all the time.

And then there’s this.

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.