Jason Varitek said Tuesday night he is "close" to reaching agreement to rejoin the Red Sox in some capacity, and several media outlets reported that sources within the organization confirmed that the team will hire its former captain very soon.
ESPN Boston reported that Varitek -- who retired after the Red Sox declined to bring him back as a player after the 2011 season -- would be named special assistant to general manager Ben Cherington and would "be encouraged to learn the Red Sox system from top to bottom and be involved in a variety of areas, including player development and talent evaluation". WEEI.com said Varitek may "head to Florida in the coming days to work with Red Sox minor-leaguers taking part in the fall instructional league".
Those sources also said, however, that talk of Varitek becoming the Sox manager is premature. It is almost certain he would not be the team's choice to replace Bobby Valentine in 2013 if, as expected, Valentine is fired.
Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car crash in in the Dominican Republic on Sunday morning, according to ESPN's Cristian Moreno. Ventura was 25 years old.
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 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.
Never say never?
While Red Sox officials said at the team's annual Winter Weekend at Foxwoods on Saturday that they'd be traveling to the Dominican Republic to talk to David Ortiz about a role with the team, Pedro Martinez told WEEI he sees Big Papi returning to his old role - designated hitter - this season.
CSN's Trenni Kusnierek and WEEI's John Tomase talked to Martinez on their show Saturday at Foxwoods and Martinez said his old teammate would be making a comeback despite the long, emotional farewell tour last season.
For the full interview with Martinez, click here.
Red Sox executives Tom Werner, Sam Kennedy and Dave Dombrowski made no mention of Ortiz returning as a player when talking about their Dominican trip. Ortiz has repeatedly said he is going to stay retired.