Shelley Duncan, Dave Duncan in his underwear, my daughter and me

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Anna at ballgame.JPGI’ll bore you with one more story about my trip with the kids to the Columbus Clippers-Charlotte Knights game last night.

Shelley Duncan’s name is announced as he comes to bat for Columbus. Anna, my six year-old daughter, hears this and giggles a bit that a man is named Shelley.  I tell her that Shelley can be a man’s name too. She nods, but I can tell that she’s not letting this one go.  The subsequent conversation:

Anna: Why would his mommy and daddy name him Shelley?

Me: I told you, it’s a boy’s name too. [trying to change the subject]: Hey Anna, I actually met Shelley Duncan’s daddy once.

Anna [surprised and impressed, because she believes baseball players are impossibly famous and therefore unapproachable]: Really? Where?

Me: When I went on my trip to Florida last month. His daddy is a coach for another baseball team and I talked to him.

Anna: [still impressed] How did you talk to him?

Me: [thinking I’m impressing my daughter even more than I am] They let the baseball writers in the locker room after the game and we get to talk to the players and coaches. He was in the locker room after a game I went to.

Anna: What do they do in the locker room?

Me: [not paying close attention to where this is heading] It’s where the players take a shower and change out of their baseball uniforms after the game before they go home.

Anna: [thinking hard about this, and then breaking out into a mischievous smile]: Did you see Shelley Duncan’s daddy with no pants on?

Me: [sudden realization that, yes, I actually did see Dave Duncan with no pants on, and that I was actually talking to him as he was getting dressed. Think fast, Craig!]: Um, I don’t remember.

Anna: YOU SAW SHELLEY DUNCAN’S DADDY’S UNDERPANTS!  YOU SAW SHELLEY DUNCAN’S DADDY’S UNDERPANTS! [followed by uncontrollable laughter].

The subject was finally changed with cotton candy.  Multiple innings go by and I figured it was dropped for the night. I was wrong.

It was getting late, I had tired kids, so we left the game in the top of the eighth. As we’re leaving, we walked down a sidewalk that follows along the outfield wall with little places to look-in and watch the game for free. Anna stops as she sees Shelley Duncan in right field, just a couple dozen yards from where we were standing.

Anna: Hey Shelley Duncan! My daddy saw your daddy in his underpants! [followed by giggling the entire drive home].

I have no idea if Duncan heard this. I desperately hope that he did not.

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.