Division Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Atlanta Braves - Game One

Remember when Yasiel Puig was gonna cost the Dodgers a playoff game with his recklessness?

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Last night, Yasiel Puig’s smart, heads-up base running got the Dodgers a run. His arm in right — and the manner in which he kinda deked Even Gattis as to whether he was gonna catch a ball and then throw — ended the Braves second inning when he doubled Gattis off first. It was quite a playoff debut for the Dodgers rookie.

Which makes it a perfect time to go down the memory hole. Specifically, back to August, when Yasiel Puig was supposed to be unsafe at any speed and was going to cost the Dodgers playoff games with his lack of discipline and unprofessionalism. First, Bill Plaschke:

Puig’s antics are the sort that will cost a team in a close game in October. For every playoff game that Puig wins with his bold arm or crazy legs, he could cost them two.

Then Jon Morosi:

Then Scott Miller:

Puig clearly has the talent to lead the Dodgers to an October title. And he clearly contains the recklessness to push the team bus straight over a cliff. Self-made man meets self-destruction, head on … with each home run and highlight-reel moment, the monster grows. Biggest question this season now is this: Can the Dodgers eke a Kirk Gibson moment out of Puig this October before they get a Frankenstein moment? … this late-night carousing, cutoff-man missing, curfew busting phenom borders on going berserk-o out of control.

I am about 95% certain that they will be followed up today by Plaschke, Morosi and Miller with some kind of “look how Puig has learned his lesson!” stuff. They’ll say the Dodgers did address it. That Puig has matured. That their lessons — which were mocked — mocked! — as alarmism went heeded and look how prescient we were. It’ll be an exercise in the authors of this narrative putting a nice little bow on a drama they have created.

Only problem: back in August, when Puig was a monster, the sentiment was that he was not going to learn his lesson because Don Mattingly did not bench him for an extended period of time. Again, Plaschke:

They needed to bench him Tuesday. But they couldn’t bear to bench him for the entire game.

He needs to learn. But Mattingly showed that he’s unwilling to possibly sacrifice a victory to finish the lecture … With one swing Puig won a game, but, in playing him, the Dodgers risked losing much more.

The others were likewise dissatisfied with the Dodgers not putting Puig in his place more authoritatively. And since August I am not aware of anyone reporting any changes in Puig or the Dodgers’ approach to him.

But no matter. I’m sure the “Puig is out of control caucus” will forget all of that. I’m sure that they will come forward today with some variation of “look how the wild horse has been tamed” and offer Puig’s coolheadedness, excellent defense and excellent base running last night as evidence that their hand-wringing over his attitude, defense and base running was totally warranted.

Or else they’ll just pretend they never said any of that because when you’re a kneejerk pundit it pays to have no memory of past positions.

Oh.

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.