Division Series - San Francisco Giants v Cincinnati Reds - Game Five

Good news for the Reds: Joey Votto has a quadriceps injury, not a knee injury

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UPDATE: Reds fans can exhale now. Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that an MRI exam showed merely a strained left quadriceps for Votto and for now at least he’s avoided the disabled list. That could sideline him for a while, but it’s obviously much better than the assumed bad news from this morning regarding his left knee.

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Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that Reds first baseman Joey Votto is scheduled to undergo an MRI exam on his left knee and is likely to be placed on the disabled list.

That’s the same knee Votto had surgery on in 2012, costing him two months of action, and according to Rosenthal the former MVP is not traveling with the Reds on their current road trip.

Votto was off to a relatively slow start, hitting .257 with six homers in 39 games, but he leads the league with 33 walks and has posted a .410 on-base percentage and .859 OPS.

Votto would join Mat Latos, Tony Cingrani, Jay Bruce, and Devin Mesoraco on the Reds’ disabled list and Cincinnati just got closer Aroldis Chapman back after he missed the first six weeks with facial fractures. All of which helps explain why the Reds are 18-21 after back-to-back 90-win seasons.

Neftali Soto could get an extended opportunity filling in for Votto at first base, but the 25-year-old former third-round draft pick has an underwhelming track record in the minors that includes a modest .410 slugging percentage in 244 games at Triple-A. A shocking number of Reds fans like to complain about Votto’s lack of power and RBIs, but he’s what makes that lineup click and replacing his incredible on-base skills is impossible.

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.