Personally I’d like to never think about shootings again. But as long as the information is out there I suppose we need to pass it along:
The agent for Orioles reliever Alfredo Simon said there are several witnesses in the Dominican Republic who are willing to come forward and testify that the pitcher could not have fired the fatal bullet that killed Simon’s 25-year-old cousin in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day.
Phil Isaac, one of Simon’s two American agents, spent the weekend in the Dominican talking to attorneys and others involved with the case and said he believes Simon was “quite a distance” away from the spot where his cousin, Michael Esteban Castillo Almonte, was killed.
“There are a few witnesses that will come forward that we have spoken to and that the attorneys have spoken to that will testify – if it comes to that – that under no circumstances whatsoever could Alfredo have fired the fatal shot,” said Isaac, who along with his brother, Alex, represents Simon.
As I always like to mention: it’s nearly impossible to know what’s going on from way up here. We’re just not that familiar with the legal system in the Dominican Republic. And given what we’ve seen, there are way too many people who are prepared to talk about this case in terms that are fundamentally different than those who talked about it five minutes ago.
But, like I said, we’ll continue to pass along new developments as they’re reported.
(thanks to reader Random Digits for the heads up)
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.
Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon hasn’t selected a fifth starter for his 2017 rotation yet, but told reporters that he could envision left-handers Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery sharing the spot throughout the year. Neither pitcher was stretched out to the full 200-inning threshold last year, Maddon added, and suggested that the two could alternate innings out of the rotation and bullpen as needed (via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat).
Anderson, 29, was acquired by the Cubs in January on a $3.5 million deal. He’s coming off a rough 2016, during which he underwent back surgery and missed all but 11 1/3 innings of his last season with the Dodgers. His last full, healthy year in the majors yielded a 3.69 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 5.8 SO/9 over 180 1/3 innings with Los Angeles in 2015.
Montgomery, meanwhile, is vying for a rotation spot after pitching almost exclusively from the bullpen during the second half of the Cubs’ 2016 run. The 27-year-old lefty put up a 2.82 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings for Chicago last year, returning in the postseason to post a 3.14 ERA during the Cubs’ championship finish.
Maddon also mentioned the possibility of throwing a sixth starter into the mix, which would help prevent his other starters from getting overworked too early in the year. Either way, Anderson and Montgomery are expected to get a lot of looks early in spring training as rotation spots are finalized in the weeks leading up to Opening Day.