Ortiz's torrid start to the season continues vs. Twins

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Ortiz's torrid start to the season continues vs. Twins

MINNEAPOLIS -- Slow starts are officially a thing of the past for David Ortiz.

Following two dreadful starts to the 2009 and 2010 seasons, Ortiz got off on the right foot last year, and this season, he's making that look like a mere warmup.

Ortiz had two more hits and three RBI in Tuesday's 11-2 laugher over the Minnesota Twins, and in the process, set a Red Sox record for the most number of hits (28) after the first 16 games in a season.

He's hitting a scorching .444 for the year and leads the Red Sox with 15 RBI, or nearly one per game.

The DH has reached base safely in 15 of the first 16 games and has multiple hits in seven of his last 10 games, during which time he's batting .525 (21-for-40) with six doubles, three homers and 13 RBI in those 10 games.

Asked if this was as locked-in as he's ever felt in the first month of the season, Ortiz quickly snapped: "No." Then, pausing for a moment and adding a sly smile, he amended his answer.

"Maybe," he said. "Early in the season, you just take what they give you and move on, man."

Indeed, Ortiz is using all parts of the field. In the first inning, with runners at the corners and the Twins shifted over, Ortiz simply slapped a single down the third base line, scoring Dustin Pedroia.

Then, in the third, he hammered a pitch from Minnesota starter Nick Blackburn over everything in right, a belt that was estimated at 429 feet.

"I didn't learn how to hit yesterday," he said. "I've been doing this for years. I'm just taking what they give you."

Ortiz has been so hot for the past week that teammates have been playfully ribbing him in the dugout.

"I keep telling him to keep his head up," joked Mike Aviles, "and that balls are going to start falling for him one of these days. In all honesty, it's impressive. They shift him, and he hits a ground ball to third. It doesn't matter where they're playing him these days. He's seeing the ball well and he's been a mainstay in this lineup for a long, long time.

"He's one of the rare game-changers in this game and he's off to a great start."

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.