I got to the Dbacks’ camp pretty early yesterday. Earlier than a lot of writers did. But almost all the players were there before I was. That’s just what they do this time of year And one player — Juan Pierre — was at White Sox camp earlier than all of the other players are:
One of the hardest working players in baseball, this is how his day begins every morning during spring training. He’s a man with an internal clock that’s always ticking, ready to rock well before the rooster crows.
“It’s just a routine. Something I follow and believe in. It’s kept me around this long,” says the speedy White Sox outfielder, who stole a career-high 68 bases in 2010, his 11th in the big leagues and first on the South Side.
Nothing stops Pierre from his early morning ritual. Well, except for one thing: The front door.
And that’s because it’s locked. Pierre gets to the clubhouse before even the security guys get there. Before 6AM each day, ready to work his butt off.
There is a lot of false hustle in spring training. Guys who reported to camp early, maybe because they’re truly dedicated, but maybe because they were bored. Guys who show up early each day, maybe because they want to work like Pierre does, but maybe because they want to hang out in the clubhouse and read the paper and b.s. with the guys as they stroll in. The managers know who’s who, however. In this case the media seems to have figured it out too.
And in this case there’s an explanation for why Juan Pierre, for all of his deficiencies as a ballplayer, manages to put together a nice year every couple of years and why he always has the confidence of his managers and coaches. The dude works. And sometimes work makes up for everything.
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.