I just got back from the All-Star Game press conference in which Jim Leyland and Bruce Bochy announced their starting pitchers and lineups. As Aaron noted, we get Scherzer vs. Harvey and a couple of lineups with which you could quibble, I suppose, if you wanted to, but what’s the point, really? Go outside and play. Do something productive.
Things of random interest to me during the press conference:
- Brian Kenny of MLB Network emceed it. When we learned it would be Max Scherzer starting, I was hoping Kenny — who has built a cottage industry of dismissing the pitcher win as a useful statistic — would go to great lengths to avoid mentioning that the most talked-about thing with Scherzer this year has been his wins. Kenny didn’t mention it.
- Jim Leyland did, though. A couple of times. And not just Scherzer’s wins, but when he was asked about why Hiroki Kuroda wasn’t named to the team despite his great ERA, Leyland said it’s be impossible for him to have left Chris Tillman off given that he’s won 11 games. I think Kenny had to sit down for that.
- Phillies Chairman Bill Giles is the honorary NL President. Jackie Autry is the honorary AL President. Each of them — along with Bruce Bochy and Jim Leyland — gave considerable lip service to the notion of the All-Star Game determining home field advantage in the World Series. They all love it. I had to sit down for that.
- Bochy had the line of the presser. When asked if Matt Harvey’s blister is going to be a problem for the All-Star Game, Bochy said he spoke with Terry Collins about it and assured him that Harvey is “gonna be limited to 100-120 pitches tomorrow night.”
- Someone asked both managers about the “cloud” the Biogenesis scandal has cast over the All-Star Game. Know what? I’ve been here two days. Basically no one is talking about Biogenesis. There’s enough going on. I sorta wish Bochy or Leyland had said “well, son, it wasn’t casting any cloud until your question,” but they were more diplomatic than I am.
So that was the presser. On to some player interviews. Gonna ask some guys what kind of tree they’d be, were they a tree. Hoping someone says “shagbark.”
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.