Quick hits: Smoltz to miss next start

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– John Smoltz will miss his next start with right shoulder tendinitis.
The 42-year-old already received a cortisone shot to ease the pain and
expects to be ready for a start against the Cubs next Saturday. In four
starts since signing with the Cardinals, Smoltz is 1-1 with a 3.27 ERA,
0.91 WHIP and 28/1 K/BB ratio in 22 innings. Todd Wellemeyer will take
his turn in the rotation against the Marlins on Monday.


– Brian Matusz was brilliant on Saturday, allowing just one run over seven innings in a 7-3 win over the Yankees.
The 22-year-old southpaw held the Bombers to just four hits, while
striking out three and walking two. The rookie seems to keep getting
stronger, having pitched seven innings in each of his last three
starts. Now with 157 2/3 innings under his belt in his first
professional season, it would be wise to shut the kid down on a
positive note. Because he has pitched just 44 2/3 innings over his
eight starts with the Orioles, Matusz would still be eligible for the
American League Rookie of the Year award in 2010.



From failing to sign first-round pick Matthew Purke to rumors that the
Rangers would bench struggling pitcher Kevin Millwood so that his $12
million for 2010 wouldn’t vest, Rangers owner Tom Hicks
said on Saturday that the team is continuing to conduct business as usual, even though the club asked Major League Baseball for a $15 million line of credit earlier this summer.



– Randy Johnson is scheduled to throw live batting practice on Monday with eyes on a return during the Rockies series.
Johnson, who earned his 300th career victory in June, hasn’t appeared
in a game since separating his shoulder in July. He isn’t likely to
return as a starting pitcher.

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.