Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of Wilson Ramos being kidnapped from his home in Venezuela. The harrowing ordeal has made an indelible imprint on his memory, but he told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post yesterday that he’s much more focused on rehabbing his surgically-repaired right knee.
“The truth is that I’m happy to be out of the situation,” Ramos said in a telephone interview Friday afternoon after his physical therapy session ended. “I know it’s been a year and remembering it, it was a sad moment and I hope to get away from it and forget about it. It’ll be hard to totally forget something like that. But, overall, I’m pretty calm now and worrying totally about my recovery. And I think that’s more important for me, taking care of my knee.”
Ramos appeared in 25 games with the Nationals this season prior to injuring his knee while chasing a passed ball behind the plate on May 12. He ended up needing surgeries to repair tears of both his ACL and meniscus. The 25-year-old hasn’t returned to Venezuela since the offseason, as he’s currently staying in the Washington, D.C. area, but he plans to make a visit once his rehab is over.
As for his progress from the surgeries, Ramos isn’t ready to run quite yet, but he can exercise on a stationary bike and do full body workouts with weights. He has dropped 10 pounds and plans to lose more weight, so we could have a best shape of his life candidate here. The hope is that he’ll be ready by the time pitchers and catchers report in February, though the Nationals will likely ease him into Grapefruit League action. Ramos is still considered the catcher of the future in Washington, but with Kurt Suzuki under contract for 2013, the Nationals can afford to give him all the time he needs.
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.