Beckett not apologizing for golfing

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Beckett not apologizing for golfing

What, you were expecting a contrite Josh Beckett?

A sheepish, if-I-had-it-to-do-over-again Josh Beckett?

No such luck.

But this shouldn't be much of a surprise.

Beckett may be evolving as a pitcher, but his personality remains unchanged: defiant, stubborn, and, literally and figuratively, unapologetic.

In other words, if you were expecting some sort of mea culpa, you came to the wrong place. That's not Beckett.

It wasn't Beckett last February when he met with the media for the first time since the chicken-and-beer details were made public last October. And it wasn't Beckett Thursday night in the wake of an embarrassing start against the Cleveland Indians.

Of course, Beckett has had embarrassing starts before. Every pitcher has. But this one came with one added ingredient: spectacularly bad timing.

Many fans were already outraged after a report placed Beckett at an area golf course last Thursday, a day after the Red Sox announced that he would not make his next scheduled start, slated for Saturday.

The Sox reasoned that Beckett was experiencing some soreness in his lat muscle, and was skipping a start as a precaution.

Ever since, the Red Sox have attempted to nuance that explanation to death, with manager Bobby Valentine claiming twice this week that, well, technically, Beckett wasn't really injured, but was merely suffering from a physical issue.

And it strains credulity that the Sox would have, as has been theorized in some parts, skipped Beckett for the sole purpose of mollifying Aaron Cook, who forced his way onto the roster a week ago thanks to an opt-out in his contract.

Either way, the club publicly introduced the notion that Beckett wasn't 100 percent, and now, both the Sox and the pitcher himself have to live with that explanation, however tortured it has become.

Beckett had to know that he would be asked about the golf outing, and sure enough, after a few questions about his outing, they came at him.

He was not unprepared, either. In what sounded suspiciously like a rehearsed answer not unlike a politician delivering a made-for-TV soundbite in a debate Beckett stated defiantly: "I spend my off-days the way I want to spend them."

When another question was posed, asking whether he could understand how fans might react, Beckett was ready again: "My off-day is my off-day."

Not long after, he mentioned that major league teams have just 18 off-days per season, and they were his to spend as he wished.

"I think we deserve a little bit of time to ourselves," said Beckett.

Here, of course, Beckett is being more than a little disingenuous. No one is suggesting that players don't have the right to some recreation. What doesn't pass the smell test, however, is the timing, coming as it did when he was being ruled out of his next start, just two days after tee time.

It was the same logic that Beckett used when he attempted to explain his poor performance last September by mentioning that his wife was expecting the couple's first child and he wasn't about to misplace his priorities.

No one was suggesting that, naturally. But many athletes possess the ability to be good point guards, left wings, tight ends and starting pitchers, while still acting as good husbands and fathers.

It's not, as Beckett suggested, an either-or-proposition.

Beckett's insistence that he did nothing wrong is merely one more invitation to fans to tune the Red Sox out. It's one thing for a team to under-perform and another thing entirely to come off as distinctly unlikeable.

In his first press conference this spring, Beckett did acknowledge that the Sox had to earn back the trust of the fans after last fall's collapse and ensuing unsavory tales from the clubhouse.

But with a chance to do so, Beckett stumbled even more than he did on the mound hours earlier.

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.