BOSTON -- Both Kevin Youkilis and Mike Aviles have the day off on Sunday. Will Middlebrooks and Nick Punto are in the lineup instead, but Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said that their off-days are not injury-related.
"They're not injured," said Valentine about Youkilis and Aviles. "It's just, we're going down into the hot weather, a day game today, all those good things. Punto needed to get in there, I think. And get Will Middlebrooks in two days in a row, all that good stuff."
Valentine also gave an update on pitcher Aaron Cook (knee laceration). Cook pitched two innings on Saturday, and will meet the team in Miami to throw a bullpen, and then will pitch a few more innings.
Also, Valentine said that Carl Crawford had no ill effects from throwing the last couple of days.
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.