Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips has hit just .234/.279/.297 in 68 plate appearances this month and has an underwhelming .725 OPS on the season. But he’s a pretty talented defender and does have some power, albeit inconsistent.
The Reds seem to like him and are probably going to exercise his $12 million club option for 2012. They may even consider signing him to a long-term deal when he gets closer to free agency.
Phillips, though, wants the future to be sorted out this summer. He wants an extension, and he was fairly open about the matter on Saturday while speaking to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer:
“Hopefully, it happens,” said the two-time Gold Glove winner. “If it doesn’t happen this year, I feel in my head and my heart, it’s not going to happen.”
“I told the Reds and the whole world this is where I want to be. If it doesn’t happen, I’m going to be very, very disappointed. I feel like I’ve made this a second home. I bought a house here. This is where I want to be, man. The fans just took me in. I feel like I need to stay here and give back.”
“It was bothering me for a while. Even if we talked about it, I would have been OK. But nothing about it? It kind of bothered me. All I can do is go out and play and not even worry about it. I ain’t gonna lie — it was bothering me for a minute.”
Because productive middle infielders are hard to find and because Phillips is still in his prime at age 29, the asking price on that extension is going to be high. So high that the Reds’ front office is unlikely to rush into it.
Phillips may sound as if he’s willing to give the Reds a “hometown” discount, but that basically never happens.
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.