Kevin McClatchy threw out the first pitch in Pittsburgh yesterday? Huh.

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Everything I’ve read about former Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy suggests that he is, to the extent we can know such things about the rich and powerful, a perfectly pleasant man who cares a lot about Pittsburgh and the Pirates. He’s also a good example for gay people who struggle with their decisions about coming out of the closet. Seems, from afar, like a pretty admirable guy.

But does anyone else besides me think it’s weird that he was asked to throw out the first pitch at the Cards-Pirates game at PNC Park yesterday?

He owned the team from 1996 through 2007, which is a period in Pirates history that makes the actual Dark Ages look like the height of Enlightenment-era Vienna. Those were some bad years for Pirates fans, and McClatchy was on watch then. They were also years in which McClatchy worked hard to get taxpayers to pay for PNC Park, amid threats, however veiled and unlikely they were, that the Pirates could leave Pittsburgh if the public didn’t pony up. Indeed, about 95% of what makes the 2013 Pirates season so wonderful are memories of just how horrifying 1996-through-2007 and a couple of years on either side were.

Yes, I realize a first pitch doesn’t make a lot of difference in the world. But would the Rays ask Vince Naimoli to throw out the first pitch? Would the Dodgers ask Frank McCourt to do the honors? Not saying McClatchy is a bad a guy like those two, but you’d think you’d want to do whatever you can to minimize negative associations.

Can someone call Bill Madlock or Kent Tukulve before today’s game?

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.