Start times for 2014 games, plus lots of news

BatSeems to be a growing number of news items regarding baseball these days and that can only mean one thing. Spring Training is getting closer. And indeed, there are just 29 days remaining until Mariners pitchers and catchers report to Peoria on Feb. 12.

Major League Baseball finalized the start times for all of the regular-season games today and you can see the full Mariners schedule on a month-by-month basis here, starting with Spring Training.

The Mariners also announced their Minor League coaching staffs today for the upper-level teams. A few interesting tidbits there, including long-time Major League coach Rich Donnelly taking over as Tacoma’s skipper. Also, two members of Eric Wedge’s former staff – Jaime Navarro and Daren Brown – will remain in the organization.

Navarro will be the pitching coach in Tacoma after working as Wedge’s bullpen coach the last three years. Brown, who started last year as the Rainiers manager before replacing Jeff Datz as Wedge’s third-base coach, has been hired as a roving instructor in the Minor League system.

You can read up on that and all the staff news for Tacoma, Jackson, High Desert and Clinton here.

On the Major League front, outfielder Michael Saunders agreed to a one-year deal that will pay him $2.3 million next season. Saunders was already under contract, but as an arbitration-eligible player for the first time, both sides had to come to an agreement on the salary or he would have gone to an arbitration panel next month.

That leaves Justin Smoak and Logan Morrison as the only remaining arbitration eligibles and we’ll likely hear news on them by Friday, when players and teams have to exchange contract numbers if they haven’t reached agreements.

MLB.com has been doing a series of stories this week ranking the top 10 prospects at each position. Today was the right-handed pitchers and Taijuan Walker was listed No. 2. Here’s my story on the Mariners’ plans for him this spring as he’s expected to challenge for a rotation berth.

And speaking of pretty good pitchers, the Dodgers signed Clayton Kershaw to a seven-year, $215 million deal today that drops Felix Hernandez down to third on the pitching money list. When Felix signed for seven years and $175 million last February, that was the biggest deal for a pitcher in MLB history.

A month later, Justin Verlander topped that with seven years and $180 million. And now Kershaw has set a new ceiling, one that averages $30.7 million a year. That means he’ll make about $1 million a start from 2014-20, assuming he stays healthy and pitches 30-plus games a year. Not a bad gig.

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