Brandon Webb had a rough outing in an instructional league game yesterday, allowing two runs in two innings, and John Tomase of the Boston Herald reports that scouts from 21 teams were on hand to watch the rehabbing right-hander.
As an impending free agent it may have been Webb’s final outing in a Diamondbacks uniform and because the former Cy Young winner hasn’t started a major-league game since Opening Day of 2009 it makes sense that so many teams want to get some looks in before he hits the open market.
What they saw wasn’t very impressive, as Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that Webb’s “fastball sat in the low-80s and topped in the mid-80s” after similarly underwhelming velocity reports in outings last week. Of course, that’s to be expected after missing essentially two full seasons with shoulder problems that required surgery and Webb didn’t seem particularly worried about eventually regaining his old stuff:
I’m not real worried about that. I think my movement and the change-up and curveball is enough to keep the hitters off, and I think with time off the velocity will come back.
There’s a good chance he’s right and Webb’s dominance was never based on overpowering velocity in the first place, as his pre-surgery fastball clocked in at an average of 88 miles per hour. Webb has said that he’d prefer to re-sign with the Diamondbacks, but new general Kevin Towers seemingly hedged his bets a bit about the likelihood of that happening:
I think we have to look at the pool of players that are out there. As we approach the free-agency season, we’ll have to weigh him against the people that will be available in the next month or so. We know what type of pitcher he is when he’s healthy and feeling good. We’ll evaluate our position as we approach the off-season.
Webb earned $15 million during the past two seasons while throwing a grand total of four innings, but his next contract will likely be very heavy on incentives and very light on guaranteed money.
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.