Wake bids emotional farewell

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Wake bids emotional farewell

FORT MYERS, Fla. Its with a heavy heart that I stand here today and Im sad to say that Ive decided to retire from this wonderful game of baseball.

And with those words, his voice choking with emotion, Tim Wakefield announced his retirement Friday evening after 19 seasons, including the last 17 with the Red Sox.

It wasnt an easy decision for Wakefield. And it wasnt one he made hastily.

Ive been wrestling with this decision a long time, this whole offseason, he said. I think the final deciding point was when my wife Stacy and I sat my two kids down and asked them kind of what they wanted me to do. Like I said before, I never wanted to regret missing any part of their life, and I just think the time is now.

That Wakefield pitched at all, let alone for 19 seasons, is an accomplishment in itself. He was drafted by the Pirates in 1988 as a first baseman. After just two seasons he was converted to a knuckleballer. But in April 1995 the Pirates released him after he posted a record of 5-15 with a 5.84 ERA the previous season in Triple-A. The Red Sox signed him just six days later. He started his Sox career going 14-1 on his way to a 16-8 record with a 2.95 ERA in 1995. He still has a hard time explaining that.

Its just one of those things as a professional athlete where you get on one of those rolls and you dont ever want it to stop, and that was one of those years, he said. I think the biggest key for me was I got released by Pittsburgh and I was driving home and I thought my career was over at that point. And when former Sox GM Dan Duquette called and said we have knuckleballers Joe and Phil Niekro in Fort Myers and we want you to go down there and work with those two guys for about 10 days. And I think working with those two guys really boosted my confidence and got me back on track where I needed to go.

Wakefield, who won two World Series championships with the Sox, retires with a career record of 200-180, including 186-168 with the Sox. He trails only Cy Young and Roger Clemens, who are tied with 192, as the Red Sox wins leader.

Its a little surreal for me still, he said. Once I get home and start to digest everything, its pretty cool to have your name up there. But it doesnt change who I am as a person or a man. And Im grateful that Ive had the opportunity to achieve a lot of those goals and be high on the list of a lot of those records and hopefully one day they can be broken because thats what records are for.

He had said in the past he would like to have the Sox wins record. Now, though, he is comfortable with his place on that list.

Im still a competitor but ultimately I think this is whats best for the red sox, he said. I think this is whats best for my family. And to be honest with you seven wins isnt going to make me a different person or a better man. So my family really needs me at home. Like I said earlier this is a very special time in my kids' life and I never want to regret missing it.

Several of his teammates looked on as Wakefield made his announcement, including Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard, Michael Bowden, Scott Atchison, Rich Hill, Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, John Lackey, Kevin Youkilis, and Adrian Gonzalez, and former teammate Derek Lowe.

Wakefield, who is 46, had not yet decided what the next chapter of his life includes.

I dont know, he said. Im honored that the Red Sox have asked me to possibly be on the board of the Red Sox Foundation, and od some stuff with their charitable works that theyre so passionate about. And also the Jimmy Fund has asked me to be a part of their organization as well. But Im sill weighing all those options right now. Just wanted to get thru this day. Havent slept all week. Im not going to make a decision any time soon but Im very honored that those tow wonderful foundations and organizations have asked me to be a part of them.

But, he left the door open for a potential return to the Sox. Asked what his response would be if GM Ben Cherington calls later in the season looking for help, Wakefield replied:

I have to digest a lot of stuff right now. So I cant answer that question honestly. But more than likely, probably.

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.