Last week Scott Merkin of MLB.com wrote an article about Mark Buehrle’s passion for animal rights and Buehrle made some comments about Michael Vick, including stuff like “I know it’s bad to say, but there were times where we hope he gets hurt” and “everything you’ve done to these dogs, something bad needs to happen to these guys.”
His comments predictably generated a lot of attention and MLB.com mysteriously removed the quotes from Merkin’s article after it was published, but today Buehrle had no problem standing behind what he said:
No, I said it. It’s an old story. Again, we are not bringing drama inside and past history stuff. So, I said it, meant it. It’s over, and we’ll move on.
In the wake of Buehrle’s initial comments our NBCSports.com blog-mate Rick Chandler noted that Buehrle hunts deer, ducks, and even bears. Here’s how Buehrle responded when asked about that:
Hunting is a sport. There are hunting stores out there. If that’s illegal, shame on my dad and my grandpa and his grandpa. It’s kind of been brought up throughout the history of America. The last time I knew dogfighting was a sport was never. Again, that’s all we need to comment on that. We’ll concentrate on baseball.
To be pro-hunting and anti-dogfighting is obviously a widely held stance, but I’m not sure simply relying on tradition as the main reason is much of an argument. Many people don’t think the distinction between killing animals and killing animals for “sport” is quite so clear and to say something is acceptable because it’s been happening for a long time isn’t necessarily convincing, since dogfighting and similarly frowned-upon activities involving animals being hurt or killed aren’t exactly new things.
Putting all that aside, I applaud Buehrle and his family for their work with animal rescue groups and I also applaud Buehrle for standing by what he said about Vick. Whether or not you agree with him, it’s obvious he meant what he said and too often public figures simply decide to disown or apologize for their comments when scrutinized even if their beliefs were represented accurately. If you said it and you believe it stand by it, and Buehrle is doing that.
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.