Breaking: McGwire admits to using steroids in 1998

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We knew this was coming eventually, but now it has finally come. McGwire was taking steroids in 1998 when he broke the home run record.  Excerpts from his statement, which have been leaked:

  • “I wish I had never touched steroids.  It
    was foolish and it was a mistake. I truly apologize. Looking back, I
    wish I had never played during the steroid era.”
  • “I never knew when, but I always knew this day would come.  It’s time for me to talk about the past and to confirm what
    people have suspected”
  • “I’m sure people will wonder if I could have hit all those home runs
    had I never taken steroids. I had good years when I
    didn’t take any, and I had bad years when I didn’t take any. I had good
    years when I took steroids, and I had bad years when I took steroids.
    But no matter what, I shouldn’t have done it and for that I’m truly
    sorry.”
  • “After all this time, I want to come clean. I was not in a
    position to do that five years ago in my congressional testimony, but
    now I feel an obligation to discuss this and to answer questions about
    it. I’ll do that, and then I just want to help my team.”
  • “I remember trying steroids very briefly in the 1989/1990 offseason and
    then after I was injured in 1993, I used steroids again. I used them on occasion throughout the ’90s,
    including during the 1998 season.”
  • “During the mid-’90s, I went on the DL seven times and missed 228 games
    over five years. I experienced a lot
    of injuries, including a ribcage strain, a torn left heel muscle, a
    stress fracture of the left heel, and a torn right heel muscle. It was
    definitely a miserable bunch of years, and I told myself that steroids
    could help me recover faster. I thought they would help me heal and
    prevent injuries, too.”
  • “Baseball is really different now — it’s been cleaned up. The commissioner and the players’ association implemented
    testing and they cracked down, and I’m glad they did.”

The AP report says that McGwire also used human growth hormone, though McGwire didn’t include that
detail in his statement.

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.