We already knew this was coming at some point, but the Mets made it official this afternoon. David Wright was named the fourth captain in the team’s history, joining John Franco, Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter.
Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter and White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko are the only other active designated “captains” in the major leagues. Wright didn’t really need the title at this point since he’s clearly the face of the franchise, so it’s mostly a formality, but the honor clearly means a lot to him.
Via Andy Martino of the New York Daily News:
“This is probably one of the proudest days of my career so far,” Wright said. “To be viewed in this light, both by ownership, by Sandy and the front office, by the coaching staff, and probably most importantly by the players — It means a great deal to me, and is something that I am very appreciative of.”
And don’t worry, Wright will not be wearing a “C” on his uniform. While those C’s can look a little goofy, I’m guessing the Wilpons may have had mixed emotions about the situation, as it could have resulted in a huge spike in merchandise sales. But I’m sure they’ll find a way to make money off it somehow.
Wright, a supplemental first-round pick of the Mets in 2001, owns a .301/.381/.506 lifetime batting line and already holds the franchise record with 1,426 hits. The 30-year-old third signed an eight year, $138 million extension with the club in December which sets him up to spend his entire career with the Mets.
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.
Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon hasn’t selected a fifth starter for his 2017 rotation yet, but told reporters that he could envision left-handers Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery sharing the spot throughout the year. Neither pitcher was stretched out to the full 200-inning threshold last year, Maddon added, and suggested that the two could alternate innings out of the rotation and bullpen as needed (via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat).
Anderson, 29, was acquired by the Cubs in January on a $3.5 million deal. He’s coming off a rough 2016, during which he underwent back surgery and missed all but 11 1/3 innings of his last season with the Dodgers. His last full, healthy year in the majors yielded a 3.69 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 5.8 SO/9 over 180 1/3 innings with Los Angeles in 2015.
Montgomery, meanwhile, is vying for a rotation spot after pitching almost exclusively from the bullpen during the second half of the Cubs’ 2016 run. The 27-year-old lefty put up a 2.82 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings for Chicago last year, returning in the postseason to post a 3.14 ERA during the Cubs’ championship finish.
Maddon also mentioned the possibility of throwing a sixth starter into the mix, which would help prevent his other starters from getting overworked too early in the year. Either way, Anderson and Montgomery are expected to get a lot of looks early in spring training as rotation spots are finalized in the weeks leading up to Opening Day.