Boo Sheffield if you must, but at least have a reason for it

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In yesterday’s recaps
I wondered whether it was time for Brewers fans to finally stop booing
Gary Sheffield. Almost everyone that responded disagreed, noting that
Sheffield is a special case inasmuch as his alleged tanking in
Milwaukee was way worse than your usual knucklehead behavior. I guess I
understand that. And, as The Star-Ledger’s Brian Costa notes, it’s not like Brewers fans are alone:

Sheffield has been booed loudly in several stadiums this season, a
constant reminder of the bad will he has left behind in cities where he
once played.

Eighteen years have passed since Sheffield last played for the
Brewers, longer than Brett Favre’s entire tenure in Green Bay, yet he
is still treated like a public enemy here. Only a day off Wednesday
spared him from more boos . . . But Brewers fans still remember. So do
Braves fans, who booed Sheffield at Turner Field. And Dodgers fans, who
booed him at Dodger Stadium.

So I understand why he is booed in Milwaukee, and I understand Los
Angeles too — he publicly bad-mouthed the front office and kept
demanding to be traded while playing for the Dodgers — but I don’t get
the booing in Atlanta.

The Braves traded for him in January 2002. The guys they gave up:
Brian Jordan, Odalis Perez, and Andrew Brown — did nothing after
leaving to make Braves fans regret the trade (Jordan was popular in
Atlanta, but not THAT popular). Sheffield, on the other hand, was
spectacular in Atlanta: in 2002 he hit .307/.404/.512 and in 2003 he
was even better: .330/.419/.604. I recall no incidents of him mouthing
off like he did elsewhere. He even had a little cheering section of
guys who wore chef hats and stuff. When he left, it wasn’t because he
demanded to leave. He simply became a free agent and the Yankees, as
they tend to do, offered far more than the Braves were willing to
offer.

It’s possible that I’m just forgetting some big incident, but short
of that, the only possible explanation I have for booing in Atlanta was
that, years later, it was revealed that Sheffield used steroids, likely
when he played for the Braves. But that doesn’t make much sense either
because Braves fans have never really gone out of their way to boo
Mitchell Report players not named Barry Bonds, let alone ones that
played in Atlanta. They kind of don’t care about anything, really,
which is sometimes good and sometimes bad.

Either way, though, it makes me wonder why they booed Sheff. Inertia? Bad day at the office? Anyone have any other ideas?

Royals pay tribute to late Yordano Ventura during spring training opener

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 12: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on August 12, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.

Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).

A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.

The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:

A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.