UPDATE: TLR got his wish, as Rasmus has been traded to the Blue Jays.
At this point the feud between manager Tony La Russa and center fielder Colby Rasmus is no secret, with various details being reported since last year and Rasmus having the benchings to show for it.
However, yesterday it may have gone to another level as La Russa said during a local television interview that Rasmus “doesn’t listen” to the Cardinals’ coaching staff:
No, he doesn’t listen to the Cardinal coaches much now, and that’s why he gets in these funks, in my opinion. If he would just stay with what they teach, he would have … but I actually feel concern for him, because he hears it from so many places, he’s got to be confused.
La Russa added that Rasmus “is listening to somebody,” which is presumably aimed at his outspoken father, Tony Rasmus, who has been a frequent interview subject for St. Louis media members and even shows up in the HardballTalk comments section from time to time.
Rasmus reportedly requested a trade last season and rumors of his departure have gotten stronger and stronger this month, leading many people to believe he won’t be in St. Louis past Sunday’s deadline.
Rasmus’ production is down this season, with his batting average dropping from .276 to .246 and his OPS falling from .859 to .753. Of course, even a .753 OPS ranks 12th among the 29 center fielders with at least 250 plate appearances and at 24 years old Rasmus is the youngest guy in the top 20. Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak’s phone should be ringing off the hook.
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.