For as often as I’ll curse Livan Hernandez’s name because of the infamous Eric Gregg game in the 1997 playoffs, I don’t really hold it against Hernandez. He was just taking what the umpire was giving him, and how on Earth can a fan of Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux fault anyone for that? Eric Gregg can take a flying leap off of whatever plane of existence his soul currently inhabits, but Livan Hernandez is really hard to hate.
And indeed, after today’s most excellent feature story by Tom Boswell, it’s absolutely impossible not to like the guy. He’s never missed a start. He gets guys out with an 84 m.p.h. “fastball.” He throws 100 warmup pitches before a game. He called a home run he hit last year and then gave his bat to the Braves fan he was taunting about it. In the middle of an outstanding 2010 season he bypassed his agent and told Mike Rizzo that he’d pitch for a million bucks in 2011 because he was happy where he was and didn’t want to mess with a good thing.
I love pitchers, and the pitchers I love the most are the laid-back ones who don’t seem to over-think stuff. They just throw the ball, don’t really get too worked up about anything and want to pitch until they’re old and gray. Hernandez is like that. He says he wants to be “the Jamie Moyer of right-handers.”
I’d be shocked as hell if he lasted another five years let alone another 11 or 12 to reach Moyer’s longevity, but you can’t not love the attitude.
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.