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Your first “Cliff Lee wasn’t cut out for New York” article of the day

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It’s one thing for Cliff Lee to decide that he’s not cut out for New York. Or for him to think that he’s simply better-cut-out for someplace else.  It’s another thing altogether for people who don’t know a thing about the guy to assume they know that. Guys like George Vecsey of the New York Times:

The Yankees, who had dreamed of throwing C. C. Sabathia and Lee as twin aces, always expect to get their man. Big Bronx bucks are almost always enough to bring anybody to the Bronx. Some of them thrive — Mark Teixeira, Sabathia, Hideki Matsui, David Cone,Paul O’Neill, and even Alex Rodriguez, in his diva way. But there is a whole history of players who have not thrived in New York, for one reason or another: Johnson, Brown, Pavano. It’s not for everybody. And presumably not for Cliff Lee from Arkansas.

Or, as we noted this morning, maybe Lee thinks he’s so awesome that he’s willing to gamble the greater guaranteed dollars the Yankees offered him for the chance at the greater money the Phillies will pay him if his 2016 option vests.  Maybe New York was too timid for him.

In all seriousness though, it seems inevitable that certain Yankees fans and certain New York writers will rush to make what is a baseball personnel matter into a referendum on the player’s guts or character. To make it the presumption that New York is where everyone wants to be and, if it doesn’t work out that way, it was the player’s issues, not their own.  I can’t express to you how grating I find that to be.

I’m not predisposed to like giant cities. I was also once offered a job in New York. My decision not to take the job had nothing to do with my taste for giant cities and everything to do with the money and the employer and the job and all of that. If it was a close call, yeah, then lifestyle and stuff would have been important, but it didn’t get that far.  A lot of people are like that, I imagine.

Some people would simply rather play for the Philadelphia Phillies, ya know?

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.