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Miguel Montero calls out Yasiel Puig for “immaturity”

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Miguel Montero is not shy to call out other players in the media. He accused the Brewers of stealing signs in the 2011 playoffs. He railed against former teammate Trevor Bauer after Bauer was traded to Cleveland. He called Zack Greinke “chickensh**” following the brawl between the Dbacks and the Dodgers. Now he has Yasiel Puig in his sights:

“If he’s my teammate, I probably try to teach him how to behave in the big leagues,” Montero said. “He’s creating a bad reputation around the league … It’s immaturity,” he said. “It’s part of his confidence right now that everything is going his way. Everything is right for him, he feels pretty good about himself. This game pays back though, he’s going to have his bad moments out there and then he’s going to realize he needs to change.”

The beef: the other day Puig barreled Montero over at the plate. Puig was out by a mile, but as he walked back to the dugout he stared Montero down. Montero doesn’t mind the barreling, he says, but the stare was bush league, bro. And Montero says that Puig’s youth, inexperience and the fact that he’s new to baseball in the United States is no excuse, as Montero himself was a 17 year-old kid from Venezuela when he first played here.

For what it’s worth his manager Kirk Gibson — speaking while unaware of Montero’s comments — did say Puig’s youth and inexperience explained a lot and that he doesn’t consider it to be a big deal. Don Mattingly, aware of the comments, chalked it up to the ugliness between the Dodgers and Dbacks this year. Ugliness in which Puig was deeply involved.

I think this is one of those deals where if Puig isn’t off to a sizzling start no one cares, but players are probably being asked about him all the time and baseball is such that veterans are always eager to make sure rookies know their place. Oh, and of course, Montero has a motor mouth, so there’s that too.

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.