Lackey threw 15 pitches to hitters, felt 'great'

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Lackey threw 15 pitches to hitters, felt 'great'

BOSTON -- John Lackey threw 15 pitches to hitters before Saturday night's game at Fenway Park. It was the first time he faced live hitting since his Tommy John surgery. And according to Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, he felt "great" afterwards.

"It's the first step in the new world for him, after a real hard summer of rehab," said Valentine. "And better than how he looked, is how he felt. He said he felt great afterwards. And that's what's really important."

So, how did he look?

"He looked okay," said Valentine. "I mean, considering it's the first time. His breaking ball was really good, which is usually the last thing. He's been working on that less. It was good. He just didn't have real good control of his two-seamer."

Valentine said that he expects Lackey to now get some rest, and then throw again in four days. The goal all along has been to get Lackey a few innings in an actual game before this season ends. The Red Sox manager hinted, on Friday, that those innings could come in Boston.

On Saturday, Valentine said he wasn't sure if that was still the goal. Instead, he pointed toward the goal being having Lackey back for next season. And not just back, but back at full strength.

"Whether or not that has to be opening day, I can tell you right now, I don't think that's necessarily a goal," said Valentine. "To get him back healthy would be the key, 100 percent."

Valentine went on to praise Lackey's work ethic throughout his whole rehab process.

For some outside of the organization, the thought of Lackey being around the Red Sox all season was a distraction. But on Saturday, Valentine called his everyday presence "impressive" and even "religious."

"From the first day of spring training, when I saw John in the weight room, I was impressed with his work," said Valentine. "He works after games, late. He's here religiously. The only day I haven't seen him working out, he had to make a move in Southern California, one day the whole year. It's really been very impressive."

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.