Here’s what went down over the past 48 hours:
- The Yankees are talking to Andruw Jones. Say what you will about the Yankees offseason thus far, but if they lose this one to the Phillies for less money, it’s gonna really hurt.
- Frank McCourt went to New York to plead with Major League Baseball to help him out in keeping the Dodgers. I picture Selig in his office talking to his consigliere and saying “do I have to see him?” not unlike Don Corleone before Luca Brasi came in during Connie’s wedding.
- Meanwhile Joe Torre was likewise petitioning MLB , in his case for Sandy Alderson’s old gig as an advisor to Selig. They should have hired him on the spot and made it his first task to give McCourt the bum’s rush out of the MLB offices.
- The Mets want another starter, but won’t pay much for one. This is totally shocking.
- We can make fun of the Chicago Sun-Times for mixing up pictures of Matt Garza and Joaquin Benoit, but I sorta live in fear of doing this myself.
- The Yankees are still thinking about Rafael Soriano. If form holds, there will be a report discounting any Yankee interest in him in 3 … 2 … 1 …
- The Rangers tried to get Matt Garza before the Cubs did. Or maybe it was Joaquin Benoit. We’re not entirely sure.
- I hate this world sometimes. I truly hate it.
- I kinda feel bad that Luis Castillo is always lumped into stories with Oliver Perez. I mean, no, he didn’t earn his contract either, but they are light years apart in terms of magnitude of suckitude.
- Here’s hoping Tony Gwynn gets better soon.
- My wife got me “Bull Durham” on DVD for Christmas, so now I can study the subject of baseball groupies much more closely. Pfun Pfact: the woman who played Millie is married to Tom Lennon from “The State” and “Reno: 911.” I just thought that was weird and that you should know about it.
And now on with our scheduled week.
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.