Kirk Gibson

Kirk Gibson gives a jerky kind of “no-comment” on the Brandon McCarthy cutter controversy

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Well, maybe “controversy” is too strong a word, but it’s at least interesting.

You may have seen how, following his trade to the Yankees, Brandon McCarthy said that the Diamondbacks discouraged him from using the cutter, but the Yankees encouraged him to bring it back. He’s had a couple of successful outings since. Good for McCarthy and his cutter.

But it is weird, many people noted, that a team would discourage a pitcher from using one of the tools in his tool box. I presume it had something to do with their perception of it being a pitch that could lead to injuries — and I gather that a couple of other teams such as the Orioles discourage use of the cutter too, at least for younger pitchers — but you never know. In any event, the Diamondbacks have had a curious fixation on process over results over the years (thus all the “gritty” stuff) so I sort of question whether they should get the benefit of the doubt here. Perhaps they could explain their thinking if they don’t want the public to continue to think the cutter thing is odd.

Well, Jack Magruder of Fox Sports Arizona decided to try to get them on the record about it. Kirk Gibson wouldn’t bite, but rather than give a diplomatic statement about how he wasn’t going to discuss such internal matters or former Diamondbacks players or something, he offered this:

“Yeah, well, I wish him well,” Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said when McCarthy’s comments were relayed Monday. “People handle things different ways. The way I’ll handle it, let’s just say it was all my fault, OK?”

You can read that as a mea culpa or something if you really strain to do so, but it sounds more like Gibson trying his hardest to criticize McCarthy without getting drawn into the topic of the dispute. “The way I’ll handle it” being a rebuke to McCarthy for mentioning the matter.

Which, sure, if it was clubhouse gossip or personal matters, that stuff should probably best be left non-public. But this is about a pitcher and his on-the-field game and, at least it appears, an organization that was asking him not to do what he felt he needed to do to win. It should totally be expected that reporters are going to ask a pitcher what he’s doing differently if he’s having success and it’s totally reasonable for a pitcher to answer that truthfully.

It’s also totally fair game to ask that pitcher’s former manager about it too. That Gibson doesn’t think so doesn’t do much to change the growing conventional wisdom about the dysfunction among the Diamondbacks’ brain trust.

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.