Spring Headlines: Robin Ventura says no to extension; Mariano Rivera won’t change routine

Despite having no managerial or coaching experience to speak of entering his rookie campaign as skipper of the Chicago White Sox, Robin Ventura helped guide the Southsiders to 85 wins and a gut-wrenching second place finish in the American League Central.

That was enough to impress new general manager Rick Hahn, who reportedly offered a one-year extension that would have kept Ventura around through 2015. That report was confirmed by Ventura on Wednesday, and we also learned his reasoning for turning it down.

From the Chicago Tribune's Mark Gonzales:

“It’s flattering and nice and everything," said Ventura. "But in talking to Rick, we have two more years to do this. We have good communication and everything is fine. I think this is my contract. I was the same way as a player. I’ll worry about it at the end of it.

"For them, I want them to have two years to think I’m still the right guy for the job for that to continue to go. It wasn’t anything that was a big deal, so I’m not holding out for anything or disappointed in not wanting to stay here. I think at the end of that, that’s when you talk about it. I’m not worried about trying to extend anything right now. I’m more worried with this team in this spring training than I’m worried about 2015.”

Given the relationship between the two sides, it would be difficult to imagine them parting ways should Ventura continue to succeed and maintain the desire to manage beyond his contract. The extra year would have provided a little extra security, sure, but it’s apparent Ventura feels confident in his abilities and comfortable with the team’s commitment.

Wainwright deal on hold: Speaking of contract extensions, the St. Louis Cardinals and Adam Wainwright remain far apart in negotiations, and have elected to put any further discussions on hold for the time being. Despite this development, Wainwright has been quick to remind Cards' fans — who are probably feeling some degree of uneasiness — this in no way indicates their relationship is damaged or has reached the point of no return.

Derrick Goold over at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has the quote:

“It doesn’t mean that it’s over,” the Cardinals’ ace said after the team’s first official workout for pitchers and catchers Tuesday at their spring training complex. “The doors are still open. It just didn’t work out right now. … All that means is we couldn’t come to a number that worked for both sides as of yet.”

Wainwright is entering the sixth and final year of his contract, meaning he‘ll hit the open market next winter without a new deal.

Good news for Madson: The Los Angeles Angels breathed a collective sigh of relief on Wednesday after the MRI on Ryan Madson’s troublesome elbow came back clean. Madson, who signed a one-year, $3 million deal in November, hasn’t thrown since complaining of soreness after a bullpen session on Feb. 1. The outlook is good, or at least brighter than it was 48 hours ago, but the Angels will continue to exercise caution with their set up man. He'll be limited to a strengthening program and won't resume throwing for at least another week.

No Mo changes: Mariano Rivera is back for his 19th season and he’s not going to let last season’s freak ACL injury change his pregame preparation.

If I had a dollar every attempt at an Austin Powers joke on Twitter last night... you know the rest.

Nightengale also notes that Rivera has already made his decision regarding his playing status for 2014, but won’t reveal those plans until later in spring training.

Hart on the mend: Three weeks removed from knee surgery, Corey Hart is reportedly ahead of schedule in his recovery. From Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal:

"It's going ahead of schedule," said Hart. "Everything has come faster than they thought it would come. They tell me I am (ahead of schedule). All my swelling is gone already.

"I have to get an MRI at four weeks (from surgery). If that shows the spot they fixed is healed then I can start regular rehab."

According to Hart, the surgery was delayed into January because it took him awhile to realize the knee was even an issue. Towards the end of the season, he missed about ten games while dealing with a torn plantar fascia in his left foot. That injury required complete rest and allowed no leg work deep into the offseason, masking his ailment and setting back his preparation.

Mariners keeping busy: On the day Felix Hernandez received a clean bill of health,and finally inked his new contract, the Seattle Mariners completed a trade, sending right-handed reliever Shawn Kelley to the New York Yankees for outfield prospect Abraham Almonte. Kelly, 28, posted a 3.25 ERA and 1.31 WHIP in 44 1/3 innings last season, and should compete for a spot in New York's bullpen.

Fan Cave Top 30: Congratulations are in order for the 30 finalists selected for this season's MLB Fan Cave. They will now travel to Arizona next week for final auditions before the 2013 group is selected and announced. Good luck to each of them.

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