Dustin Ackley

Mariners could soon give Dustin Ackley a shot

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With Jack Wilson hitting .250/.282/.288 on the season, it’s almost time.

Dustin Ackley, the second overall pick in the 2009 draft and the Mariners’ No. 1 prospect, has rebounded from a poor April to hit .359/.475/.594 with three homers 13 RBI and a 7/15 K/BB ratio in 64 at-bats this month for Triple-A Tacoma.

The Mariners actually have gotten decent production from second base overall, but that’s mostly Adam Kennedy and he can play first and third as well.   The Mariners have been holding out hope that Wilson would play well enough to bring back a prospect before the deadline, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.  By the time June 1 rules around, releasing him and moving on to Ackley is going to be the obvious move, particularly since waiting that long should guarantee that Ackley won’t be a super-two arbitration eligible after 2013.

Ackley isn’t likely to be a star right away.  It took him time to adjust to Triple-A, and the jump to the majors will be even more difficult.  Plus, there are still questions about whether the former first baseman and center fielder will last at second defensively.

The 23-year-old Ackley is ready for his first opportunity, though.  He possesses 15-homer power, and with his on-base skills, he could be the solution in the two hole the Mariners thought they were getting when they signed Chone Figgins.  The Seattle lineup is badly in need of a boost, and while Franklin Gutierrez’s return should help some, Ackley is their best hope of providing it.

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.