What we're watching – Ollie rejoins the Mets

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– Oliver Perez makes his much-anticipated return to the rotation versus
the Dodgers. Of course, most of the anticipation comes from National
League hitters, rather than Mets fans. Perez had a 9.97 ERA in five
starts before the Mets shelved him for nine weeks with a knee injury.
The left-hander had a 3.12 ERA in four rehab starts, but his one
particularly strong effort came in the short-season New York-Penn
League. Overall, he allowed 17 hits and walked 11 in 17 1/3 innings.
The Dodgers will throw Hiroki Kuroda.

– Both failed last time out, but Zack Greinke and Tim Wakefield will
again have chances to become the AL’s first 11-game winners tonight.
Wakefield has the advantage of facing an A’s team that’s 12th in the AL
in runs, 13th in OBP and dead last in slugging. Greinke, though, has
already manhandled his opponent, Detroit, twice this season, throwing a
pair of compete games that resulted in identical 6-1 victories. He’s
10-4 with a 2.69 ERA lifetime against the Tigers.

Game of the Night

Texas vs. L.A. Angels – The Rangers and Angels entered the
three-game series with identical records, and nothing has been decided
through two games, as the Rangers were able to bounce back from a 9-4
defeat to win 8-5 on Tuesday. Tonight’s matchup is made more
interesting in that both starters are dealing with questions about
their arms at the moment. Vicente Padilla will work on eight days’ rest
after complaining of shoulder soreness. He lost to the Angels after
giving up five runs and two homers over five innings on June 29. Ervin
Santana and his still iffy elbow ligament will face the Rangers for the
first time this season. He lost Friday in his return from the DL,
leaving him 1-4 with a 7.43 ERA in seven starts for the season. The
Angels will probably be without the services of Vladimir Guerrero after
he suffered a strained leg muscle last night.

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.