Ciriaco hopes to continue to prove his worth

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Ciriaco hopes to continue to prove his worth

FORT MYERS, Fla. Pedro Ciriaco was one of the very few bright lights on a very dim Red Soxscape last season. A virtual unknown, Ciriaco wasted little time last spring making a name for himself. A two-run, walk-off home run in extra innings early in camp set the tone for his spring.

After being called up on July 7 from Triple-A Pawtucket, Ciriaco went on to hit .293 with 16 stolen bases, seventh in the American League, in 76 games for the Sox while playing six positions 35 games at third base, 16 at second, 12 at shorts, three in center field, two in left, and two in right, while serving as the designated hitter in 10.

Ciriaco, 27, who joined the Sox as a minor league free agent in December 2011, set career highs last season in almost every category. After all, he had appeared in a total of just 31 games with the Pirates in 2010-11.

It was pretty good for me, to be able to play a little bit more, he said. Have more chances to prove myself and prove to everybody else I can play in the high level, it was really important to me.

Still, it was important to him that he proved he could do it.

I always know I have the ability to play, he said. I just wanted to prove I could do it and be a little more consistent. So its much better.

This season, Ciriaco will be in much the same role, playing both infield and outfield. But, he knows he still has to prove himself.

Im just fighting for my spot, he said. I dont want to take anything for granted. Just have to be better every day.

Ciriaco played winter ball this offseason, playing for Toros del Este of the Dominican League. He went appeared in just nine games, batting just .192. He had hoped to play more, but a shoulder injury cut his time short. His shoulder is fully healed now, he said, ready for a full season.

But he wouldnt mind having another spring like last year.

I hope so, he said with a smile. I work hard in the offseason to be better this year.

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.