A.J. Burnett

David Ortiz, A.J. Burnett eschew cliche following last night’s game

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ANSWER: “We gotta play ’em one day at a time. I’m just happy to be here. Hope I can help the ballclub. I just want to give it my best shot, and the good Lord willing, things will work out.”

QUESTION: “What are ‘things A.J. Burnett and David Ortiz could have chosen to say after last night’s game but didn’t?’ Alex.”

And it’s to our benefit of course, because life is always more interesting when ballplayers decide to go off script.  First, here’s Ortiz, when asked about Joe Girardi’s mildly negative comments following Ortiz’s bat flip following the home run he hit on Tuesday night:

“I don’t care what Joe Girardi says. Take it like a man. I’m done with that …  I got almost 370 bombs in the big leagues and everybody wants to make a big deal because I bat flip one of them. [Expletive] that [expletive], man. If I have to make that video on my [expletive], let’s see how many bat flips I got on this [expletive]. Good night.”

That ire, focused way more on the media for asking the questions about it than Giradi’s comments themselves, is fairly understandable. I mean yeah, when you sign on to play in Boston or New York you have to expect nontroversy-fueling questions from the media, but at some point I’m sure everyone gets sick of it.  The guy just hit another homer a few hours ago and the Red Sox took over first place and these guys all want to talk about something silly from the night before that was mostly their own creation in the first place. Your F-bombs are excused in my book, Big Papi.

A.J. Burnett also eschewed the land of cliche when asked about why the Red Sox seem to kill him now when, back when he pitched for Toronto, he owned them:

“I’m not in Toronto (anymore), so I’m tired of hearing about all that. That’s just retarded. If anything was different I made pitches when I was with Toronto, and I didn’t make pitches tonight. That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.”

I’m guessing someone will jump on that this morning, particularly Burnett’s use of the word ‘retarded,’ which is so increasingly frowned upon an actual organized movement has been formed to wipe it out of the language.  I’m doing my best not to call stuff ‘retarded’ all willy-nilly because the case against its casual use makes sense to me personally, but even I can’t get myself worked up about Burnett’s use of the term here. When frustrated people find themselves in frustrating and stressful situations, you’ll have it.

But no, I don’t imagine that will stop either of these subjects from being tongue-wagging fodder today.

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.