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Phillies have ‘some hunger in our mouths’

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Yesterday we found out that Hanley Ramirez has the “hunger of a rookie.”

Today we find out some bad news for Marlins fans: The Philadelphia Phillies are also very hungry, maybe even hungrier than Hanley Ramirez. That’s what happens when you reach the NLCS and then sign Cliff Lee in the offseason.

This is what Phillies starter Roy Halladay told Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com:

“The longer you play the more hungry you get,” Halladay said. “All of us are to the point where we’ve had success and established ourselves. Once you do that, the most important thing becomes winning. I know Oswalt and Cliff feel the same way. We’re at that point in our careers where you really have to start chasing it. To be able to be on this team, right now, I think we all have to like our chances and hope we can do what we need to do to get it done.”

Shane Victorino went even further:

“There’s some hunger in our mouths,” centerfielder Shane Victorino said. “I don’t think we can be any hungrier than we are right now.”

Since this is two hungry guys vs. Florida’s one hungry guy, I’m going to have to tab the Phillies as the early favorites to win the NL East. Of course we have yet to hear from the Mets, Nats and Braves, so things could change.

All this talk of appetites brings two questions to mind:

1) Could there possibly be a better way to explain the arbitration process than to give a fake Prince Fielder a bunch of cheeseburgers? (“Now, the arbitrator cheeseburger’s decision is binding and determines the number of cheeseburgers for compensation. He could determine that the player deserves six, eight, or 10 cheeseburgers, which I will now eat.”)

2) How will this phenomenon affect all these players who are in the best shape of their lives?

As complicated as these matters are, one thing is clear: I’m hungry for spring training to start.

You can follow Bob on Twitter, and get all your HBT updates here.

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.