Survivor Smacked Me In The Chops

Jeff Kent on “Survivor” recap: Clutch puzzle solving

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Jeff Kent was featured prominently in the season premiere of “Survivor” last week, but he was mostly an afterthought in the second episode last night. And yet because I wasted an hour of my life watching the show I’m going to do a Kent-centric recap now:

• The producers are clearly trying to make him a major character, as Kent and former “Facts of Life” actress Lisa Whelchel were the first two contestants mentioned in the whole “last week on …” recap.

• Kent was shown early on having a rough time with the island’s constant rainy weather because his knee, which he injured in the episode, continues to give him problems.

• His first words this week were an attempt to link the show and baseball: “I played baseball for 17 years. ‘Survivor’ is going to be a long season for me. If you don’t have anything left in the tank in October you aren’t going to be a champion. I’m making sure I’m taking care of my knee and making sure I have enough energy to help our team win.”

• Fun fact, considering that quote: Kent never actually won a champion during his MLB career.

• Kent does not know how to make a fire, so he fits in perfectly with seemingly everyone else on the show. How nearly everyone finds out they’re going to be on “Survivor” and doesn’t bother a), doing some cardio, and b) learning how to make a fire is beyond me.

• Despite the knee injury Kent volunteers to do extra work pulling a heavy sled during the immunity challenge, which makes sense even with the injury since he’s a former professional athlete and the other people are mostly just very good at being annoying.

• After doing a solid job pulling the sled Kent then goes to work trying to put together a large puzzle. He nimbly hops up onto the table where the puzzle is, suggesting last week’s fears about a torn MCL were overblown.

• His team falls behind in the puzzle making, but Kent fits the final pieces together by diving onto the table to flatten it into place to win second place and the reward of a tarp. He celebrates by lying on his back with legs and arms in the air while appearing to have some sort of brace or wrap on his knee, which means he either brought that or someone on the show gave it to him. Hmm.

• Kent and his tribe avoided tribal council for another week, which in turns means I have to watch this show for at least one more episode.

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.