Take a deep breath before wading into the Manny-Papi commentary

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Whenever major steroids news
breaks, we can be assured of a few things: shock, outrage,
overreaction, and moralizing. I don’t think anything I can say will
head that off at the pass, but let me at least try. This is addressed
mostly to the sports media, but let’s just make it a general “to whom
it may concern:”

You’re not surprised, so please don’t pretend you are. The only
people who will truly surprise you to be associated with steroids are
Derek Jeter, juniors Cal Ripken and Ken Griffey, and dudes like Jason
Tyner and whatnot (though guys like him shouldn’t surprise you).

You’ve not been betrayed, so please don’t claim to be. You enjoyed
the baseball of those years and nothing of value has been taken from
you as a result of recent revelations. While it’s totally legitimate to
be turned off and disappointed and generally depressed about all of
this, if your sense of trust has been so violated by all of this
steroids business that you actually feel the need to claim “betrayal,”
you probably need to examine if you’re still a fan or not.

And you know this one is going to come up like crazy, so let’s be
perfectly clear: the Red Sox’ championship in 2004 is not tainted. At
least no more tainted than the outcome of any other championship won by
any other team in at least the past 20 years, not to mention the awards
and the regular season games and everything else, so please don’t even
go there. Baseball had a steroids problem. Not just the Red Sox, not
just the Yankees, not just the Orioles, Rangers or A’s. As such, to the
extent one uses this latest news as a means of singling out the Sox,
one is simply showing that they see the entire world through rivalries
and not reason.

Now, with that out of the way, you may resume your regularly-scheduled outrage.

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.