Rob Bradford of Boston’s WEEI caught up with Red Sox outfielder J.D. Drew on Saturday and the two discussed his plans for the future. It sure sounds like the 34-year-old Drew, who has now played 13 seasons of Major League Baseball, might call it quits at the end of next season.
His current contract with the Red Sox will be up at that point and he told Bradford that he wants to participate in faith-related missions and spend more time with his family.
“I don’t think people realize the intensity of being gone,” said Drew. “It’s really,
really difficult. Then there’s where I stand in my faith and my
commitment. Those things pull heavily when you start to get to this
point in my career. … I’ve had a great time in the game of baseball, and the relationships
I’ve come across have been great. But that being said, there’s only so
much you can do.”
Drew seems to miss a large chunk of playing time every season due to a range of injuries, but he’s one of the most productive and underrated players in all of baseball when healthy. This year the right fielder has posted 18 home runs and 62 RBI in 435 at-bats and has batted .282/.370/.507 against right-handed hitters. He still has great range on defense and a strong arm.
Drew is a stellar .281/.388/.499 career hitter with 234 career homers and 1,371 career hits. He’s played for the Cardinals, Braves, Dodgers and Red Sox.
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.