Dmitri Young: rested and ready. Well, sort of.

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Interesting story about Dmitri Young in the Washington Times.
Young, you’ll remember, was given one of baseball’s more, well,
unexpected contract extensions when Jim Bowden gave him $10 million for
2008 and 2009 a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, he only played 50
games last season and has been completely MIA so far in 2009 due to
back trouble and bereavement leave and general Dmitri Youngishness. He
wants to play, of course, but there’s no room in Washington unless Nick
Johnson is traded. Young wouldn’t mind being traded himself, but
there’s a slight problem with that:

There isn’t anyone interested in a 35-year-old singles-and-doubles
hitter who is a liability in the field and who has a history of trouble
with his back and with diabetes. And who is owed $5 million this season.

Yeah, that kind of stuff tends to get in the way. Still the most gobsmacking part of the story comes with this passage:

In his mind, though, he believes he could have been playing in the
majors months ago. Having shed 40 pounds from a 6-foot-2 frame that
once weighed in at 330 and having successfully controlled his diabetes
thanks to a strict diet, medicine and exercise regime, he said it has
been four years since he has felt this well.

That’s pretty amazing if true. And a little sad, because given his
contract situation, there’s no incentive for anyone to give Young a
second look at this point. But if he were made available for the league
minimum, wouldn’t it be worth it for some AL team to take a chance on
him? Yes, he’s provided many unintentional laughs over the years, but
he has also hit pretty damn well (he’s only two years removed from a
.320/.378/.491 season). If he were released by the Nats tomorrow and
could show that he’s reasonably healthy, couldn’t he be a Matt Stairs
figure? Couldn’t he be useful making a spot start here and there and
serving as a reasonably dangerous pinch hitter?

OK, maybe that’s a stretch. I’ve just always had a soft spot for
Dmitri. He’s got his problems, but the guy is funny and passionate and
smarter than he’s given credit for, and I’ll always hope that there’s a
place for a guy like that in the game.

Hell, bench coaches don’t do anything. Maybe that would be a good place for him . . .

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.