CSN Bay Area’s Andrew Baggarly thinks the lineup the Giants used today is the one Bruce Bochy will go with on Opening Day as well. Which should please fans of the other NL West teams.
CF Angel Pagan
LF Melky Cabrera
3B Pablo Sandoval
C Buster Posey
1B Aubrey Huff
RF Nate Schierholtz
2B Ryan Theriot
SS Brandon Crawford
Missing, of course, is Brandon Belt, who has only managed to hit .368 with three homers and four doubles in 38 at-bats in Arizona. Huff has come in at .286 with two homers and no doubles in 28 at-bats. But there was never any real reason to think it’d be a fair fight. Huff is still making big money and will likely get a month or two of regular-season playing time to prove that he’s worth it.
The Giants do have the opportunity to go with both Belt and Huff by playing one of the two, most likely Huff, in the outfield. Such a move would probably do more harm than good, though. While the Giants need to get Belt’s bat in there, it makes a lot more sense to play him over Huff than either Pagan or Schierholtz. Neither of those guys are locks to hit, but they are among the league’s better defenders at their positions.
Giants fans just have to hope that if Huff is a liability in the early going, the team doesn’t wait as long as it did with Aaron Rowand and Miguel Tejada last year to drop him. If the plan is for Posey to see some time at first base, then Huff would quickly become an unnecessary part. The Giants could use Belt at first base against righties and young Hector Sanchez as their catcher against lefties, with Posey switching between the two positions.
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.