Drew focused on healthy, productive 2011

191542.jpg

Drew focused on healthy, productive 2011

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- J.D. Drew, one of the last position players to arrive in camp this week, said his strained hamstring is improving all the time and shouldn't limit him much in camp.

"It's much better over the last couple of weeks,'' said Drew. "Hopefully, no issues there and we can go through camp with no problem. It was a long process for the off-season, trying to get that thing better. But it seems to have finally turned the corner.

"We've tried a bunch of different stuff, but I think we'll straighten in out with stretching and stuff like that. I hadn't had any problems with it before until the second half (of last season). Hopefully, that's an issue we don't have to deal with a whole lot down here.

"It's going to be a thing where I kind of take it step-by-step as spring opens up and things get rolling. But for the most part, right now it feels pretty good.''

While Drew may ease into activity to avoid aggravating the hamstring, he plans no major changes in his preparation.

"I think it's always the same old thing -- just trying to fine-tune, get your legs up underneath you and make sure everything is ready to go for April. I had a nice off-season routine going, good workouts. I'm excited to be in camp and ready to go.''

Drew rejoins a restocked roster and overhauled outfield that has new teammate Carl Crawford in left, Jacoby Ellsbury back in center and Mike Cameron relegated to the bench.

But Drew thinks Cameron will still contribute.

"Cam's going to play his usual out there,'' Drew said. "(His) ability to play all over is going to be huge. (Rest) is something every guy is going to need from time to time and for him to fill in for Ellsy or Crawford or me. Tito's been real good with that in the past, finding days when we need them. I'm sure he'll continue to do that.''

While some players set statistical goals befoe each season, Drew takes a more general approach.

"My thing is at-bats, quality at-bats every time I step on the field,'' he said. "If I can control that and do that every time I step on the field, things will be fine.''

He had no explanation for why he struggled so much against lefthanded pitching last season, hitting just .208

"No reason at all,'' he said with a shrug. "I don't have any answers on that one.''

Drew's five-year, 70 million contract expires after this season, but there's no reason to put any added pressure on himself to perform in a walk year.

"Every year is a big year,'' Drew said. "I think you want to go in there and give yourself the best chance to have a great year and help your team. So that's my goal.''

At the start of last season, Drew said he might retire at the end of this year, but he's made no further plans.

"I haven't thought a lot about it,'' he said. "Me and my wife have talked a little bit. More than anything, the (focus) this off season was to get myself healthy and get ready for this season. As the year unfolds, we'll have some more (talk).''

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Former Red Sox prospect Andy Marte killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

cleveland-indians-andy-marte-killed-12217.jpg

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

kansas-city-royals-yordano-ventura-killed-12217.jpg

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.