Jayson Stark tweets that both of the All-Star managers were told by Major League Baseball that they needed to pick a “multi-position” player in order to take advantage of the new rule allowing managers to return one player to the game after he comes out. It was for that reason, Stark says, Charlie Manuel chose Omar Infante and Joe Girardi chose Ty Wigginton, each of whom are capable of playing multiple positions.
Stark’s take: if fans had known that beforehand, and if there had been a position for, say, “designated utilityman” or something, no one would have had a problem with the Infante pick. He’s probably right about that.
Of course that still doesn’t make perfect sense because, to take advantage of the re-substitution rule, the managers would have to play Infante and Wigginton someplace else first, remove them and then return them to the game, which means more play from undeserving players than from legitimate All-Stars, and that would be silly. Better to have no re-substitution rule at all and instead have an extra roster spot for utility guy who is not intended to play unless the game goes into extra innings, the team gets desperate or whatever.
But I get what Stark’s saying. And it makes it pretty clear that Charlie Manuel didn’t think that Omar Infante was somehow a more deserving All-Star selection than Joey Votto or someone. The bosses told him to take a utility guy, and as far as utility guys go, Infante is as good a choice as any in the National League.
He still needs to explain that Ryan Howard pick, though, because he’s just got no business there this year.
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.