Ortiz hits K.C. as the Red Sox' lone All-Star representative

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Ortiz hits K.C. as the Red Sox' lone All-Star representative

KANSAS CITY -- In the past, when David Ortiz made his annual pilgrimage to the All-Star Game, he came with plenty of company.

Jon Lester. Josh Beckett. Dustin Pedroia. Jonathan Papelbon. They -- and plenty of others (J.D. Drew, Mike Lowell, Tim Wakefield, et al) -- made sure the Red Sox were always well represented at baseball's midsummer classic.

Not this year.

As reflects a team that is at .500 at the break, Ortiz is the lone Red Sox representative at Tuesday's All-Star Game at Kauffman Stadium. That marks the first time in more than a decade -- Manny Ramirez was the only member of the Sox at the 2001 game -- that the Sox have had just one representative.

"It's a little crazy,'' agreed Ortiz. "I've always been able to see some of my teammates. It's strange. But at the same time, we have a lot of guys on the DL. That's the major reason, I guess.''

It's those same injuries -- to Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, Andrew Bailey and, more recently, Pedroia -- which have impacted the Sox so heavily.

There's no arguing with Ortiz's credentials. He's hitting .312 with 22 homers and 57 RBI, all tops on the team. His .607 slugging percentage and 1.013 OPS are each among the league leaders.

"I think it was good,'' said Ortiz assessing his own first half. "There's a lot of challenges in the American League. If you don't have someone hot hitting behind you, they don't mind pitching around you and taking care of the rest of the lineup. I think the first half was good. Like I always do, I tried my best. Hopefully, the rest of the guys on the DL are ready for the second half and we'll have a better chance.''

Playing without tablesetters such as Crawford and Ellsbury, and with Adrian Gonzalez not producing as many runs behind him, Ortiz has had to carry the team offensively.

"It puts a lot of pressure on me,'' said Ortiz. "You look at the games and see how they pitch to me. You just have to be patient. I have learned over the years how to be patient. When you're young, you have so much energy and you want to do things. Next thing you know, you're in trouble.

"I've been doing the opposite. It's hard, though. You have to work at it. But it is what it is.''

Ortiz can only hope that the players sidelined for much of the first half will provide a boost when the second half of the season gets underway Friday. Both Ellsbury and Crawford are expected back within a week or so.

"We're going to have a lot of guys coming back,'' he said. "A lot of the regular guys are coming back. We're going to be in better shape going into the second half. We have a lot of guys on the DL and it's hard to compete like that.

"We haven't been able to work as a group, there have been so many injuries. At one point, we had the whole regular outfield on the DL. Everybody's been on the DL. I've never seen anything like that before.''

With a 3-7 road trip in Seattle and Oakland followed by a 1-3 series against the Yankees, the Sox didn't exactly give themselves any momentum going into the break, losing 8 of their last 11.

That skid dropped them 9 12 games in back of New York, and 2 12 games out of the second wild-card spot.

But Ortiz believes the Sox can still come out ready to make their move Friday.

"The break,'' he said, "sometimes, it gives the players a chance to breathe, think a little bit about the second half and what they have to do better, what they need to improve on.

"Our team is really good at that. You saw last year how we bounced back after the slow start. After the break, a lot of players regroup. You know that's the last ride, the last part of the season. Hopefully, that's the case with us and we start playing better.''

It would help, too, if underperforming veterans such as Gonzalez, Lester and Beckett began to play to their usual level in the second half, something Ortiz believes is likely.

"The most important thing is that they know how to do it,'' he said. "Hopefully they come back strong."

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.