Chris Young hopes to return to Padres this season

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Remember Chris Young? He certainly hopes the San Diego Padres do.

Young, the 6-10 right-hander known as much for his injury struggles as his talent, threw 55 pitches over three innings in a simulated game on Thursday.

He is trying to work his way back from a shoulder injury, and says he’s focused on returning this season, not next. From the Associated Press:

“It’s definitely my goal, not just to pitch, but to be successful and win,” said Young, who’s had a serious injury for three straight seasons. “Certainly I’m not trying to get ahead of myself. There’s still some tests, but I wouldn’t be doing it if it wasn’t my goal. It would be easy to shut it down and say I’ll strengthen it and worry about pitching later, but that’s not the case. I want to pitch, I want to win, I want to help this team make a strong run here. I feel if things keep going according to plan, I’m capable of that.”

Young has made just one start this season, pitching six scoreless innings against the Diamondbacks back on April 6. Over the last three seasons, he has made only 33 starts as he has struggled to stay healthy.

When able to pitch, Young – who was an All-Star in 2007 – is a solid talent (47-34, 3.84 ERA, 1.209 WHIP over his career).

The Padres, who would have homefield advantage throughout the playoffs if the season ended today, are already ruling the NL on the strength of their pitching and defense. They lead the league in ERA, WHIP and hits allowed, are second in strikeout/walk ration and third in strikeouts.

If Young were to return this season, the guess here is that Kevin Correia would lose his spot in the rotation, though the team could also opt to curb the workload on 22-year-old Mat Latos, who has thrown 142 of his career 193 innings this season.

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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.