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Mariners sign first-round pick

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POSTED June 23, 2014 11:46 p.m.

SEATTLE (AP) — Alex Jackson was understandably nervous being thrust into a batting practice group that included Robinson Cano.

At some point in the future, the Seattle Mariners hope Jackson and Cano are residing in the same lineup.

“You go up there with a little bit of nerves but at the same time all the players are having fun helping you out, so it was great,” Jackson said.

The Mariners signed Jackson on Monday, locking up the No. 6 overall pick in this month’s draft with plenty of time for him to get experience this summer.

The 18-year-old Jackson was regarded as the best high school position player available in the draft. Jackson was a star at Rancho Bernardo High School near San Diego. He batted .400 with 11 home runs in his senior season after hitting 14 homers as a junior and 17 as a sophomore. His 45 career homers are tied for the most in CIF San Diego Section history.

He was drafted to be a young bat the Mariners can develop and someday become a slugger for the big league club. His career is getting started right away. Jackson will report to the Mariners’ rookie level team in Peoria, Arizona on Tuesday.

Jackson could have decided not to sign and stayed with his college commitment to play at Oregon. But Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik said Jackson wanted to play immediately. Hence the quick negotiations and quick assignment to rookie ball.

 

Female knuckleballer throws BP for Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Rays have taken batting practice against a female high school knuckleballer Evan Longoria, Jose Molina and David Price hit against 17-year-old Chelsea Baker from Durant High School in nearby Plant City. They did it before Monday night’s game against Pittsburgh.

Baker admitted that she was intimidated at first, but had a “great time” while pitching from about 10 feet in front of the mound and behind a protective screen. She displayed good control, but did hit Longoria in the back with a pitch.

Molina swung and missed a couple of times, and Price hit a hard line drive up the middle. Baker says the late major league knuckleballer Joe Niekro taught her to throw the fluttering pitch about 10 years ago.

 

Celebs announced for All-Star softball game

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Yes, Kevin Love is the subject of trade talks by the Minnesota Timberwolves. The star power forward is still one of the notable names scheduled for the celebrity softball competition at Target Field, as part of festivities leading up to the Major League Baseball All-Star game.

Rapper Nelly, actor James Denton and foodie Andrew Zimmern are on the list. So are Hall of Fame members Andre Dawson, Rickey Henderson and Ozzie Smith and former MLB stars Dwight Gooden, Mike Piazza and John Smoltz.

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