Vernon Wells’ strong start is a distant memory and he’s hitting .118 with zero homers and a 21/2 K/BB ratio in his last 30 games, posting a ghastly .268 OPS (yes, OPS) dating back to mid-May.
For the season he’s now hitting .221 with a .263 on-base percentage and .368 slugging percentage in 68 games, which adds up to a .631 OPS that’s even lower than the .682 and .660 marks he had for the Angels the past two seasons. So why haven’t the Yankees benched him yet?
Here’s what manager Joe Girardi told Matthew Stanmyre of the Newark Star Ledger:
We still believe that he can get it done. I know he’s capable of doing it because I’ve watched it. I’ve watched it with my own eyes. I saw him do it in April and I believe that he can still get it done.
April was nice and all, but it’s one month and Wells has now hit .222 with a .658 OPS in his last 276 games and 1,061 plate appearances dating back to 2011. And that includes his good April this year.
Wells got dumped on the Yankees because the Angels were convinced he’s washed up and now he’s playing like someone who’s washed up. Obviously if the Yankees were healthier Wells would probably have lost his regular spot in the lineup already, but even an injury wrecked team should be able to see that it’s just not happening.
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.