Mike Redmond

Braves suspected Marlins were stealing signs during three-game sweep in Miami

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Miami just swept a three-game home series against Atlanta and afterward several Braves players and manager Fredi Gonzalez all but accused the Marlins of stealing signs.

Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that Gonzalez changed the team’s signs five times during Wednesday’s game alone and “the Braves went so far as to look at the sculpture in left center field, wondering if there was somebody hiding in there with a camera.”

Someone hiding in the Home Run Sculpture and relaying opposing team’s signs to the Marlins would be a spectacular story, but ultimately the Braves found nothing out of the ordinary in any of their searches. They did, however, continue to cite the Marlins’ extreme home/road splits when discussing the issue with the media.

One of the biggest supposed red flags from the Braves’ point of view is that the Marlins knocked around Aaron Harang after being shut down by him in a start last week, but realistically it’s the being shut down by Aaron Harang part that should raise more eyebrows. He’s a 36-year-old with a 4.91 ERA in 32 starts since the beginning of last season.

When asked about the sign-stealing accusations, Marlins manager Mike Redmond told Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald:

Just give us a little credit. I mean, we’re out there playing the game the right way. Guys are battling and competing. That’s how we’re winning ballgames. Actually, I don’t even think much about it because my focus is on our guys and my team and what we’re doing. We just played a great three-game series and I’m not going to let anything diminish that.

And here’s what Marlins infielder Casey McGehee said:

I’m not going to say it’s never happened in the history of the game before, but we’re not splitting any atoms, let’s put it that way.

Harang, of course, had a different take:

It was baffling, like, where were these guys last week? They were way too comfortable. It seemed like they were all hitting like Ted Williams.

Or, it was like they were all facing Aaron Harang.

Whatever the case, it should be fun when the Marlins and Braves next play beginning May 30 … in Miami.

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.