After 11 seasons in minors, Cody Clark to make major league debut

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31-year-old catcher Cody Clark was called up by the Astros on Friday and will make his major league debut 10 years after originally being drafted by the Rangers.

Clark is the replacement on the roster for Max Stassi, who suffered a concussion after he was hit in the face by a pitch on Wednesday.

Clark was originally a 48th-round pick by the Blue Jays out of high school. He opted to go to Wichita State rather than sign, and he was taken in the 11th round by Texas in 2003. The Rangers, though, weren’t impressed by his offense and released him in 2005. He spent the rest of that year playing Indy ball, joined the Braves’ low-A club in 2006 and then logged six years in the Royals system before joining the Astros on a minor league deal last winter.

Obviously, it took a few breaks to get him his chance now. Never much of a hitter, he’s really fallen off these last couple of years; he hit just .180/.246/.268 for Triple-A Omaha last year and he was at .217/.258/.273 in 158 Triple-A at-bats this season. There’s not really any chance of him playing any long-term role with the Astros, and it’s quite possible he won’t even last for the rest of the year. But after 11 seasons, he can finally say he’s made it. There probably won’t be anyone happier to be in a major league dugout tonight.

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.