Aviles proving he's fit for the shortstop job

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Aviles proving he's fit for the shortstop job

BOSTON -- When guys do their jobs, things just start to come together in a 162-game Major League Baseball season.

Mike Aviles might just be the perfect example of a guy doing his job.

The Red Sox shortstop carousel has almost always been a major topic of discussion since 2004. But in 2012, Aviles has held down the fort, and it's no longer a position that anyone is talking about, which is a good thing.

Aviles is only hitting .260 after Tuesday's 5-0 win over the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park. He finished the game 2-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI while hitting ninth.

But what is sticking out the most is his terrific defense at short, which Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine called "huge" before the game.

"He's made all the progressions," said Valentine in his pregame press conference. "He's learning to move with hitters and to position himself properly. He always knows the speed of the runner. He's been huge. The stability of him has been huge for our defense."

And Aviles didn't make Valentine look stupid on Tuesday against the Mariners. Because a few hours later, he made the defensive play of the game, in the second inning.

With one out and nobody on in the top of the second, Kyle Seager hit a 1-1 pitch up the middle, and Aviles chased it down to his left, and dove in the direction of center field, snagging the ball with his glove in the grass. He quickly got up and fired a seed to first for the out.

Afterwards, Aviles admitted that the effort to make that play was fueled even more so by the fact that he wanted to have Josh Beckett's back.

"It was just one of those plays where I was shaded a little bit up the middle, and you know, Josh Beckett is one heck of a teammate, regardless of how people portray him at times," said Aviles when asked about the diving play. "He is a really, really good teammate, and he's here for us. So, anytime he's on the mound, or any pitcher on the mound for that matter, we're trying to get their back, because we know they've got our back."

Aviles was just one of many strongly supporting Beckett after Tuesday's win. But there were also players supporting Aviles, and his defensive efforts this season.

"He's been great," said Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia after Tuesday's win. "He's been working real hard and he's making a ton of great plays out there and saving a lot of runs for us. He's doing an awesome job."

Aviles also produced at the plate on Tuesday, and it began with an RBI double to right-center in the bottom of the fourth that put the Red Sox up 2-0. He added an another RBI in the bottom of the eighth after dropping a double down the left-field line, giving Boston a 5-0 lead.

He said he's just trying to hang with the big boys.

"I've just been fortunate," said Aviles. "It feels good, playing on a team like this, where everybody pretty much is a really good hitter. It's a little easier to feed off some energy from other players.

"I'm trying not to be the weak link, is pretty much what it comes down to. I don't want to be that guy that always gets out. So, when you've got guys like Papi Ortiz, Pedey Pedroia, Gonzo Adrian Gonzalez, I mean, they're non-stop getting hits and RBIs, I kind of want to join the parade too."

Aviles was one of the leaders of the parade, both offensively and defensively, on Tuesday.

And as shortstop of the Boston Red Sox, he's just doing his job.

Former Red Sox prospect Andy Marte killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

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Former Red Sox prospect Andy Marte killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

Former major leaguer Andy Marte, a one-time top prospect in the Red Sox organization, was killed in a car crash in the Dominican Republic on Sunday. He was 33.

Marte was killed the same day that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a separate car crash in the Dominican. Ventura was 25. Coincidentally, Ventura was the Royals starting pitcher in Marte's final major league game, for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 6, 2014.

Marte, drafted by the Braves in 2000, was ranked the No. 9 prospect in baseball in 2005 when the third baseman was traded to the Red Sox as part of the deal that sent shortstop Edgar Renteria to Atlanta and Marte became the top-ranked prospect in the Red Sox organization.  

Marte was traded by the Red Sox to the Indians in 2006 in the deal that sent Coco Crisp to Boston and spent five seasons with Cleveland. His best season was 2009 (.232, six home runs, 25 RBI in 47 games). After a six-game stint with Arizona in 2014, he played in South Korea the past two years.  

Metropolitan traffic authorities in the Dominican told the Associated Press that Marte died when a car he was driving his a house along the highway between San Francisco de Macoris and Pimentel, about 95 miles (150 kilometers) north of the capital.
 

Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

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Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car crash in in the Dominican Republic on Sunday morning, according to multiple reports. Ventura was 25 years old.

Highway patrol spokesman Jacobo Mateo told the Associated Press that Ventura died on a highway leading to the town of Juan Adrian, about 40 miles (70 kilometers) northwest of Santo Domingo. He says it's not clear if Ventura was driving.

Ventura was killed the same day former major leaguer Andy Marte died in a separate car crash in the Dominican. Coincidentally, Ventura was the starting pitcher in Marte's final MLB game, for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 6, 2014. 

Ventura was 13-8 with a 4.08 ERA for the Royals' 2015 World Series champions and 11-12 with a 4.45 ERA in 32 starts in 2016. The right-hander made his major league debut in 2013 and in 2014 went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA for Kansas City's A.L. pennant winners. 

Ironically, Ventura paid tribute to his good friend and fellow Dominican, Oscar Tavares, who was also killed in a car crash in the D.R. in October 2014, by wearing Tavares' initials and R.I.P. on his cap before Ventura's start in Game 6 of the World Series in 2014. 

Ventura is the second current major league player to die in the past five months. Former Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident in Miami on Sept. 25.