On the heels of being swept in a three-game series by the Mets to fall to 14-18 on the season, the last-place Phillies are conducting a mini roster shakeup.
Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports that the Phillies will promote left-handers Jake Diekman and Raul Valdes and infielder Hector Luna before tomorrow’s game against the Padres.
No word yet on the corresponding moves, but Joe Savery has already been optioned to Triple-A and Laynce Nix could be headed to the disabled list with a calf strain. The Phillies will need to clear space on the 40-man roster for both Valdes and Luna.
Diekman, 25, has an 0.59 ERA and 22/3 K/BB ratio over 15 1/3 innings with Triple-A Lehigh Valley this season while the 34-year-old Valdes has a solid 3.86 ERA and 26/1 K/BB ratio over 21 innings. They’ll be added to a bullpen which has a major league worst 5.59 ERA. Luna, who has previously appeared in the majors with the majors with the Marlins, Blue Jays, Indians and Cardinals, will serve in a utility infielder role.
The Phillies might not be done there, though. Salisbury reports that infielder Mike Fontenot “could also be on his way in the coming days.” Fontenot, who signed a minor league deal with the club last month, is hitting .319/.373/.447 with six doubles and an .819 OPS over 52 plate appearances at the Triple-A level. He would presumably share playing time at second base with rookie Freddy Galvis, who has looked quite capable defensively, but is hitting just .213 with a .578 OPS across 99 plate appearances.
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.