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The Miami Marlins ticket office people are total professionals

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Out of pure curiosity and, I will admit, an impish desire to stir up trouble, I called the Miami Marlins season ticket office a few minutes ago to see what, in light of the latest fire sale, the party line is among people trying to sell Marlins season tickets.

Figuring it has to be a rough morning for these guys, I played it straight up, merely inquiring about tickets, ticket prices and the like and didn’t try to give anyone a hard time. I wasn’t wanting to fool anyone, either. Just to see what sort of pitch was ruling the day.  I did claim that I was interested in getting information about ticket pricing and availability, but did not say I was poised to purchase. I mostly just wanted to hear what they’re telling people today.

The upshot:  the folks in that office are total pros. Honest. No baloney, but still doing their jobs and anticipating what is bound to be a lot of negative fan reaction.

The woman I spoke with was very pleasant. She talked up the ballpark and the experience of going to Marlins games and the enjoyable nature of baseball in general.  There were no over-the-top claims of team quality or hard sells to be found.

Towards the end of the call I said that I noticed the news about the trade last night and asked if that had led to a lot of negative reaction. She was honest and said, yes, they’ve gotten some angry calls today and that some people were not renewing tickets (though this was not connected to the trade; just that, in general, not everyone was renewing, which is obvious). She mentioned that there was a staff meeting about the trade this morning to let everyone know about the latest news.  She said that it’s understandable that some people are going to be upset, but that there were some good young players coming over in the trade so that, from a baseball perspective, there is a lot to be optimistic about.

And all of that was true.  It was quite refreshing actually. No b.s. coming from them at all.  She followed up with a friendly email, again, noting that while some people are understandably having a hard time getting enthused, it’s a good time to get tickets.

If only the top of that organization was so honest, professional and pleasant.

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.