Alan Embree will opt out of Red Sox deal if not called up this week

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When he signed a minor-league contract with the Red Sox during spring training Alan Embree had the right to opt out of the deal if he wasn’t on the major-league roster by April 15. Once that date arrived and the Red Sox had no plans to promote him Embree extended the deadline to April 30, saying that he needed a bit more time to get ready anyway.
However, yesterday the 40-year-old reliever told Dan Barbarisi of the Providence Journal that he will not extend the opt-out deadline again and plans to become a free agent if not called up to Boston by Friday.

There’s not going to be any extending of the deadline anymore. I’ve been a good soldier, I did whatever’s asked, and I did what it took to get ready. If something hasn’t happened by the 30th, I think they know that I’m not going to consider staying. So it’s pretty much cut-and-dried. If I don’t hear anything, I get on a plane and head home until I have a new job.



I feel like I’m ready, I feel like I can help the team, but ultimately that’s not my decision. I can respect that. I’m a player, they’re in charge. The way I look at it is that they either take me, or I go somewhere else, or I go home. At this point in my career, I’m pretty comfortable with it. I’m sure there’ll be work out there for me, and I’m sure it’ll be good work. But that’s not what was intended when I signed over here. I wanted to be a Red Sox and retire a Red Sox.

Tim Wakefield getting bumped from the rotation makes the Red Sox’s bullpen even more crowded, but realistically Embree is simply competing with fellow southpaw Scott Schoeneweis for the situational left-hander role anyway. Hideki Okajimi clearly isn’t going anywhere as the left-handed setup man and it seems unlikely that the Red Sox would keep three lefties in the bullpen right now.
In other words, unless Boston feels like dumping Schoeneweis my guess is that Embree will indeed be getting on a plane and heading home at the end of this week.

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.