Most of Ozzie Guillen’s rants can be ignored. They’re usually plenty insightful, but he spouts off so often that it almost becomes repetitive. And then he’ll surprise you, and really say something that makes you think. That’s what he did Sunday while talking to reporters before Chicago’s series finale with the Oakland A’s at U.S. Cellular Field.
Guillen noted that Asian players are assigned translators by the clubs that sign them and Spanish-speaking Latino players are not. Guillen also noted that few young Latino players are educated about the effects and consequences of performance-enhancing drugs and that those same players are cast aside if they don’t sign with major league clubs before the age of 16 or 17. All the while American college kids can hold off until 22 or 23 to develop their skills and build a resume that includes experiences beyond the game of baseball. Like college degrees. You know, backup plans.
“Very bad. I say, why do we have Japanese interpreters and we don’t have a
Spanish one. I always say that. Why do they have that privilege and we
don’t?” Guillen said Sunday.
“Don’t take this wrong, but they take advantage of us. We bring a
Japanese player and they are very good and they bring all these
privileges to them. We bring a Dominican kid … go to the minor
leagues, good luck. Good luck. And it’s always going to be like that.
It’s never going to change. But that’s the way it is.”
Everything Guillen said is correct, and while it’s not a fun topic to think or talk about, young prospects from the Dominican and other Latin countries are often treated like cattle — ridden hard and fed well until there’s an inkling of regression. Then it’s time for the slaughter house. Or zoo exhibits — dressed up in the club’s garb and paraded through the farm system until there’s a slight fading of skill.
Sure, the Latino players that do it the right way or have infallible talent will reach the end of the rainbow in the form of multi-million dollar contracts. But if Guillen’s comments at least raise awareness for the treatment of lesser Latino prospects, then mission accomplished.
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.