Bud Selig has repeatedly downplayed the outcry for expanded instant replay this year, which is why this comment from a Q & A with Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times on Thursday was pretty surprising and downright refreshing.
You have said you want to expand instant replay to include reviews of fair or foul balls and trapped balls. Will that expanded replay be in place for next season?
“I think we’ll have it for sure. They’re working on cameras in all the ballparks. We need the right cameras. Should we have them by next year? We’d better.”
That’s what we have longed to hear from Selig for a long time now, but actions speak much louder than words. Expanded replay for fair-or-foul balls and trapped-or-caught balls was actually negotiated into the new collective bargaining agreement last November, though the implementation was subject to negotiations between MLB and the umpires’ union. It was announced back in March that the two sides weren’t able to come to an agreement in time for this season. MLB also wants to make sure that they have the proper technology in place in all 30 parks. Let’s hope Selig has more sense of urgency to get this done than he has shown with the committee on the Athletics-to-San Jose case. Thursday’s answer was a pretty good start, though.
By the way, Shaikin’s Q & A is worth a read. Selig addresses a wide variety of topics, including the new Wild Card format and whether he showed a double standard by allowing the Moores to take $200 million in TV money from the recent sale of the Padres, but wouldn’t allow Frank McCourt to do the same with the Dodgers. Really interesting stuff.
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.