Mariners shut down Casper Wells due to head issue

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From beat writer Larry LaRue of the Tacoma News Tribune comes word that the Mariners have put an early end to Casper Wells’ 2011 season due to ongoing complications with his head.

The mysterious ailment, which is affecting Wells’ equilibrium, was originally diagnosed as a “severe sinus issue.” But that was ruled out this week after a visit with a specialist. Wells’ eyes have also been checked, and there’s nothing wrong with them either.

The Mariners’ medical team will continue to seek a diagnosis and a course of treatment. For now, they’ve simply shut the 26-year-old outfielder down as a precautionary measure.

“I didn’t go with the team and I’ve seen a couple of doctors this week and found out what it isn’t, we just haven’t figured out yet what it is,” Wells said Thursday. “I don’t want the perception to be I’m taking it easy – the last few weeks, I couldn’t pick up the fastball.

At first I thought it was my eyes, then I thought maybe some kind of sinus infection. In the outfield, I was having trouble seeing the ball. At the plate, the only thing I could really pick up was the curve, and I hit one for a home run in the Texas series at home.”

Wells hit .237/.317/.442 with 11 homers in 241 plate appearances this season between the Tigers and M’s.

Pitch clock cut minor league games by 25 minutes to 2:38

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NEW YORK — Use of pitch clocks cut the average time of minor league games by 25 minutes this year, a reduction Major League Baseball hopes is replicated when the devices are installed in the big leagues next season.

The average time of minor league games dropped to 2 hours, 38 minutes in the season that ended Wednesday, according to the commissioner’s office. That was down from 3:03 during the 2021 season.

Clocks at Triple-A were set at 14 seconds with no runners on base and 19 with runners. At lower levels, the clocks were at 18 seconds with runners.

Big league nine-inning games are averaging 3:04 this season.

MLB announced on Sept. 9 that clocks will be introduced in the major leagues next year at 15 seconds with no runners and 20 seconds with runners, a decision opposed by the players’ association.

Pitchers are penalized a ball for violating the clock. In the minors, violations decreased from an average of 1.73 per game in the second week to 0.41 in week 24.

There will be a limit of two pickoff attempts or stepoffs per plate appearance, a rule that also was part of the minor league experiment this season. A third pickoff throw that is not successful would result in a balk.

Stolen bases increased to an average of 2.81 per game from 2.23 in the minors this year and the success rate rose to 78% from 68%.

Many offensive measurements were relatively stable: runs per team per game increased to 5.13 from 5.11 and batting average to .249 from .247.

Plate appearances resulting in home runs dropped to 2.7% from 2.8%, strikeouts declined to 24.4% from 25.4% and walks rose to 10.5% from 10.2%. Hit batters remained at 1.6%.