Melvin Mora to miss some time because of a car accident, which leads me to two random observations

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Jack Magruder reports that Diamondbacks’ third baseman Melvin Mora was struck from behind in car accident and will miss a couple of days because of it.

This is not major news, but I pass it along so I can put up two random spring training observations I didn’t get around to making last week:

1) Some scouts hanging around the Dbacks-Giants game I went to talked about Melvin Mora fitting in on the Diamondbacks. They kept saying stuff like “he’s a ballplayer and Gibson likes ballplayers,” and “yeah, he likes to play the game. He’s a player.”  I actually was around a lot of scouts while I was down there and most of them had really insightful things to say, be it about baseball specifically or life in the game in general. I got a lot of laughs and learned some stuff from them.  Those two guys, however: not so much. I have no idea what “he’s a ballplayer” is supposed to mean.

2) Accidents happen everywhere, but I must note that while everyone tends to complain about drivers no matter where they are — people always think that where they live has “the world’s worst drivers!” — I must say that people in the Phoenix area drive quite well.  Not too fast and reckless, not too slow and pokey. People merge properly. People are generally courteous, but not so much that they back up traffic just to let you in. It’s square in the sweet spot of drivability. I’m not sure if there is a cultural geographic reason for this, but one does a lot of driving in Phoenix, and for nearly 10 days I was in constant comfort and easy on the roadways, and I can’t say that about most places I’ve been.

That is all.

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.