Carlos Gomez says he's the best center fielder on the Brewers

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Carlos Gomez threw down the gauntlet for rookie outfielder Lorenzo Cain on Tuesday, telling Anthony Witrado of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that he is the best center fielder on the team.

“They know and I know that I can do the job every day,” Gomez said.
“I’m the best centerfielder on the team. But Lorenzo is doing a really
good job for the last two weeks and it’s not fair for me to come off the
DL and take his chance. I understand.”

“He is a really good player, but I think I’m still the man on this team.”

Brewers manager Ken Macha didn’t sound too pleased Gomez’s remarks:

“I’ll just say that’s interesting,” Macha said. “You can take that any way you’d like. I’m just saying it’s interesting.”

It wasn’t too long ago that Cain was thought of as the center fielder of the future, however a knee injury limited him to just 60 games in 2009. The 24-year-old outfielder has rebounded in a big way this season, batting .317/.402/.432 with three homers, 27 RBI and 26 stolen bases between Double-A Huntsville and Triple-A Nashville. Given the chance at regular playing time after Gomez suffered a concussion, Cain has a .314/.368/.431 batting line over his first 51 major league at-bats.

Though Gomez was out of line to voice his opinion in such a public manner, he isn’t completely wrong. He rates among the best defensive center fielders in all of baseball. Unfortunately, the 24-year-old outfielder has yet to progress with the bat, hitting just .228/.285/.348 with five home runs and 22 RBI during his first season with the Brewers. Also, his walk rate has actually dropped from 6.3 percent in 2009 to 5.8 percent this season, while his strikeout rate has increased from 22.9 percent in 2009 to 25.6 percent. His glove isn’t enough to compensate for that.

Face it, the Brewers are going nowhere this season, so they have little to lose by continuing to run Cain out there every day. He deserves it with the way he’s been playing. But if Gomez keeps yapping, look for him to be a trade chip in what figures to be an eventual offseason in Milwaukee.

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.