Valverde, Montero trade heated words through the media

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Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero took a few shots at Tigers reliever and former teammate Jose Valverde on Friday night for the closer’s wild antics on the mound.  It’s not the first time that an opponent has questioned Valverde’s animated jumps and fist pumps, and we usually don’t get a response from the intimidating ninth-inning man.  But Montero must have really hit a nerve.

Here’s what Valverde offered to the Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro on Sunday morning:

“Tell Montero he’s a freaking rookie and I can do
whatever I want to. Tell him that. Put
it in the papers. If he wants to do something, tell him to come to my
locker and let me know. … I never liked Montero.  He’s a (bleeping) piece of (bleep). … Tell Montero he has two years (in the majors) and I have eight.”

At least he got the service time correct on the second try.  Montero fired back:

“He’s dumb. What do you want me to say? He’s smart? No. He’s just dumb.”

The Diamondbacks and Tigers will finish up a three-game interleague series on Monday then won’t meet again for the rest of the season .  So if this thing is going to come to fisticuffs, it will have to happen today.  Not that we’re rooting for a fight, or anything…

Cardinals tab Miles Mikolas for Opening Day start

Miles Mikolas
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The Cardinals have selected right-hander Miles Mikolas as their Opening Day starter, the club revealed Saturday. It’ll mark the first career Opening Day start for Mikolas, who is scheduled to go up against the Brewers when the team hits the road on March 28.

The 29-year-old righty was a strong contender for the 2018 NL Cy Young Award, earning All-Star distinctions and pitching to a career-best 18-4 record with a 2.83 ERA, 1.3 BB/9, 6.5 SO/9, and 4.3 fWAR over 200 2/3 innings. He’s positioned to lead the Cardinals rotation in 2019 as well, with former Opening Day starters Carlos Martínez and Adam Wainwright and some combination of right-handers Jack Flaherty, Michael Wacha, Alex Reyes, and John Gant behind him.

Manager Mike Shildt told reporters that Flaherty, Wacha, Wainwright, and Martínez had all been considered for the honor, but admitted that Opening Day honors were ultimately handed to Mikolas “in recognition of [his performance] last year.” The Cardinals are scheduled to play a four-game set against the Brewers to start the season and will stop over in Pittsburgh for another two games before returning to St. Louis for their opening homestand against the Padres on April 4. Additional pitching assignments have yet to be announced.