Lou Merloni's first impressions from Ft. Myers

995435.jpg

Lou Merloni's first impressions from Ft. Myers

Lou Merloni is down on the fort -- Fort Myers, that is. He's had his eyes on all the Red Sox players so far in camp, and comes away impressed with some, and not so impressed with others.

Joe Haggerty is in studio to ask Merloni what the scoop is down there. Who's impressed Merloni so far? The answer may surprise you.

"I would say your boy, Haggs - John Lackey," Merloni said. "There's a lot of opinion about this guy and I understand where it comes from. But when you watch him you watch with unbiased eyes and I know he looks good physically, but watching him on the mound, it was effortless. I was really impressed with how he threw the baseball. It looked like there wasn't much effort and windup yet the ball was coming out of his hand.

"Salty was catching him, and I thought just about every ball he threw was down at the knees, and probably kind of one-hand everything he threw above that. So I thought it was pretty impressive. I was interested to see how the weight loss would translate onto the mound, and I thought he looked good."

Merloni was also impressed with third baseman Will Middlebrooks.

But it's not all rainbows and butterflies down in camp. While Lackey may have lost a few pounds, it looks like he gave some of them to Felix Doubront, according to Merloni.

"I gotta be honest, I'm not exactly loving what I see when I look at Felix Doubront," Merloni said. " This is a guy that has had conditioning problems in the past. He got a taste of it a few years back. he came out, didn't really do much in the offseason and missed the entire season. Was motivated, spent the entire season in the big leagues last year.

"You just hope he did the work this offseason and didn't just sit there and think 'I've got it locked, I'm in this rotation' because right now it looks like he's added a few pounds. We'll see how this thing translates. Hope he doesn't miss too much time before you get Felix Doubront going."

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.