Plaschke blames Manny's slump on steroid withdrawal

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The L.A. Times’ Bill Plaschke has been carving Manny Ramirez up since his PED suspension back in May, so you know he was just waiting for the right time to bring this kind of noise:

Something is wrong with Manny Ramirez. Something different than a hitch. Something more than a slump. 
Something is wrong here, something that might be lodged as deeply in
the head as in the hips, something that perhaps batting practice can’t
fix . . .

. . . Although the official explanations for his slump involve those habits,
and are technical and convoluted, those familiar with steroids quietly
submit one simple reason:

Ramirez trying to kill the ball to overcompensate for the fact that
he’s no longer juiced, attempting to show everyone that his previous
success was him and not steroids.

There are those who also wonder whether he is struggling with the loss
of that invincible feeling that steroids give hitters, a syndrome
commonly associated with those who are struggling to find themselves
after coming clean.

“Those familiar” with steroids submit one question?  “There are those” who wonder?  How on Earth do Plaschke’s editors allow him to hide behind that stuff?  He’s the only one in this article asking that question and wondering those things. He quotes no one, anonymous or otherwise.  This is quite obviously Bill Plaschke and Bill Plaschke alone making such an accusation, yet he he’s not willing to simply say it without couching it as the accusations of others.

Why? Probably because he’s a writer who knows absolutely nothing about what causes or ends slumps, be they by ex-PED users or otherwise.  He wants to make Ramirez the goat of this Dodgers’ team, and he wants to continue to slam him for his PED use despite the fact that everyone else has moved on.  But hey, if he can marry a slump to the ‘roids, it’s a current story that accomplishes both of his goals.

Put differently, it’s hack work.  But then again, it’s Bill Plaschke, so what else did you expect?

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.