Rob Bradford of WEEI checks in from Fort Myers where he spoke with Theo Epstein about the awkwardness that will be the Mike-Lowell-in-camp dynamic:
“I don’t know that it will be that dicey. As I’ve said, it’s one of
those things that will take care of itself. Mike’s priority is our
priority, which is to get him healthy. Until that happens, there’s
really not much that can be done. He’s going to be a little bit behind
everybody else because of the surgery he had. we’re going to do
everything we can to help get him healthy. Once he gets healthy, it
will take care of itself. If he’s really impressive and impressive to
other clubs, maybe something can be worked out. If not, I’m sure
there’s nowhere else where Mike would rather take a bit of a lesser
role than here.”
That’s about as honest as an assessment as you’ll hear from a GM. Most of the time in such situations you’ll hear the front office say “we think Mike Lowell will be a big contributor, etc, etc.,” even if it’s not plausible. Maybe so that the player’s ego isn’t bruised, maybe because they think that by doing so it will make the guy a more attractive trade target. It seems, however, that Lowell and Theo and are going to be spending this spring openly and honestly shopping the guy.
Not that it’s completely honest. Because really, does anyone think that the Red Sox want to keep Lowell on the team, riding the pine, making $12 million to be a utility guy who can’t play up the middle? I don’t, and if the Sox can’t find a trading partner I’d be shocked if they didn’t simply cut Lowell in the interests of a more flexible bench. I mean, its not like they’re not going to be paying most of his salary even if they trade him.
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.
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.