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Apparently ego and vanity are the only reasons A-Rod is appealing

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That’s if you believe Bob Klapisch, of course.  He takes a look at A-Rod’s return to the Yankees and — despite noting that the Yankees are awful and A-Rod is actually looking like he is capable of helping the team — he casts a cynical eye on Rodriguez’s presence on the Yankees. And it’s not even a money thing. Klapisch even admits that anyone would play if there was money at stake so it’s hard to fault Rodriguez for that. But:

Given the inevitable humiliation that awaits, A-Rod is using the last two months of the season to build up equity with the fans. Only a fool would believe that’s possible – that home runs in meaningless games will clear the stench of years of PEDs use. But that’s how Rodriguez rolls, swaddled by ego, a tone-deaf vanity and his PR staff that never let Rodriguez forget he is larger than life. So A-Rod on about rescuing the Yankees, but he has to know that’s beyond anyone’s grasp. Instead, it’s all about the stage – his stage, just the way baseball’s greatest narcissist likes it.

I forgot the part where A-Rod claimed he could “rescue the Yankees,” but hey, if you want to paint someone in the most negative light possible sometimes you have to take some liberties. After all, it’s boring to say that A-Rod is playing because (a) he’s a healthy baseball player under contract; who (b) is eligible to play because his suspension is under appeal. Much better to chalk it all up to vanity and ego and stuff.

But really, the efforts people are taking to make mounting a defense to a draconian punishment look like evidence of bad character on A-Rod’s part is amusing. I mean, it’s not like you need to find new avenues for attacking A-Rod’s character. But even if you do, this is an odd one, as I’m really curious to know whether Klapisch or any of his like-minded noble souls would simply roll over and accept four times (and then some) the workplace punishment they thought they were subject to beforehand.  Would they not fight that, even if they were as guilty as sin? Would they not continue coming to work if their union contract said they could?

Nah, of course they wouldn’t. They aren’t so vain, egocentric and narcissistic as all that, I’m sure. They’d just disappear.

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.