Chone Figgins

Chone Figgins will serve as Mariners third baseman, leadoff hitter

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UPDATE: Eric Wedge confirmed the news today, stating that the Mariners would move Ichiro into the third spot in the order and try Figgins at leadoff. Check back later for the Mariners edition of “Running down the rosters” for a guess at the full lineup.

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And why shouldn’t he be? He hit .188 last year.

Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times believes the Mariners will soon name Figgins their leadoff man, with Ichiro Suzuki moving down in the order. The Ichiro move is something that’s been hinted at all winter, and FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal recently indicated that Figgins was the likely replacement.

Figgins’ position in the field won’t be quite as set, but he’s not so concerned about that, as long as he’s penciled in regularly.

“Like I told them ‘I’m going to be ready for wherever you play me in the lineup, as long as you play me every day’,” he told the Times. “That’s something I care about.”

It’s hard to believe Figgins has the gumption to make such a statement, as terrible as he’s been in his two years with the Mariners. He went from hitting .298/.395/.394 in his final year with the Angels to .259/.340/.306 in 2010 and .188/.241/.243 last year. By any measure, he rated as one of baseball’s worst players last season, and he collected $9 million in the process. The Mariners owe him another $17 million over the next two years.

Obviously, the Mariners’ decision to restore him to everyday status is financially motivated. In a fair world, Kyle Seager would have every chance to beat him out for the third-base job this spring. At 34, Figgins isn’t necessarily too old to bounce back. But at this point, he should have to earn his spot, not have it handed to him along with his millions.

That doesn’t seem to be the plan at the moment, though. Figgins will see some time in the outfield this spring, but third base is where he’s expected to play most of the time. Seager may well be Triple-A bound unless he forces the Mariners to carry him as a part-timer with a big month of March.

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.