Joe Mauer has yet to appear in a Grapefruit League game, but he’s inching ever-closer to his debut after catching Nick Blackburn’s bullpen session earlier today.
According to La Velle Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Mauer said he hopes to appear as a designated hitter sometime after Tuesday’s scheduled off day.
“Yeah I’d like to,” he said. “Like I said, it was the first day. We have to see how we feel tomorrow and the next day, but if I’m feeling good then, yeah, I want to get in there.”
Mauer has been sidelined for the early part of the exhibition schedule following offseason surgery on his left knee. He has received three injections over the past few weeks in order to lubricate his knee joint. He’s hopeful that the series of treatments will allow him to handle the rigors behind the plate this season.
As for any recent concerns that he wouldn’t be ready for Opening Day, Mauer says it was “never in doubt.”
Mauer, who turns 28 in April, batted .327/.402/.469 with nine home runs, 75 RBI and an .871 OPS over 137 games last season. He’s about to enter the first year of an eight-year, $184 million contract.
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.
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.