Out since July 17 with a strained Achilles’ tendon, David Ortiz wants to come back and play for the Red Sox as soon as possible. However, he made it clear Sunday that he’s thinking ahead to his upcoming free agency in deciding not to rush his return.
“If you go back and play sore, of course you could [tear it]. It’s not healed. It’s not ready and I don’t want to run that risk,” Ortiz told CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty. “I’m a free agent after this year and I don’t want to have a surgery going into free agency.”
It’s hard to blame Ortiz for thinking that way after what happened with Ryan Howard last year. Howard, playing on a sore Achilles, ruptured the tendon on the Phillies’ very last play of the season and missed nine months before returning July 6. If Ortiz were to suffer a similar injury, it’d ruin his chances of landing a multiyear deal and probably cost him a few million dollars in salary next year.
Still, Ortiz’s complaints about his contract situation can’t be endearing him to a Red Sox front office that has never been shy about paying the man. Of course, the Red Sox look at the history of designated hitters in their mid-30s and Ortiz’s body type and only want to go year to year with him. They see that as smart baseball sense. Ortiz looks at the deals handed to guys like John Lackey and Carl Crawford and sees his one-year contract as a lack of respect.
Ortiz will keep testing his Achilles with the hopes of returning in the near future. Currently five games back of the second wild card spot in the AL, the Red Sox desperately need him in the middle of their lineup.
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.