Notes: Scutaro's arm is healthy again


Notes: Scutaro's arm is healthy again

By SeanMcAdam

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Marco Scutaro hit the second pitch of the game for a leadoff homer in the Red Sox' 4-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves Wednesday, but what got everyone's attention in the Boston dugout was a play he made behind the second base bag in the third inning.

Scutaro knocked down a hard-hit ball from Martin Prado, scrambled to his feet quickly and zipped a throw to first to nab the baserunner.

"Last year,'' said Terry Francona, "he probably gets to the ball but can't do anything with it.''

That's because, for most of last season, Scutaro played with a sore right shoulder that progressively weakened as the year progressed. By September, he asked the Sox to move him to second base because he could no longer make routine throws from short.

After a winter of rest, rehab and a strengthening program, Scutaro's shoulder is back to normal, enabling him to make plays like the one he made Wednesday.

"You guys saw the last month of 2010, I couldn't make it,'' said Scutaro. "I pretty much couldn't pull my arm back to make a throw. It felt like every time I went back, it felt like a knife. It was good to work hard in the offseason and now, it's great.''

Scutaro had to change his throwing motion last year to compensate for the pain, but has returned to his more natural mechanics this spring.

"I'm pretty close to where I used to be,'' Scutaro said. "I'm just trying to take it easy on throws during infield practice and batting practice. I just try to get loose and not do too much. The mechanics came back naturally.

"It feels good. It's not like I'm going to hit 50 homers and 199 RBI. But it's a matter of waking up, feeling strong and feeling you can compete.''

Jon Lester's outing -- 4 23 innings, eight hits, three runs allowed on two walks and four strikeouts -- wasn't a thing of beauty, but it at least gave the lefty an opportunity to pitch out of jams.

"It wasn't like they were really driving the ball,'' said Lester. "I was getting bad contact, so that's always a good sign when you're doing that.'

"It's nice to get experience pitching in jams. Obviously, you don't ever want to be in a jam in a regular-season start. But if there's a time to do it, this is it. It's just like anything else -- you've got to practice getting out of jams. I was able to minimize the damage in the first and Andrew Miller did a good job of coming in the fifth and getting out of that jam.''

Francona acknowledged that the results weren't necessarily what Lester was aiming for, but added: "He threw all his pitches, got almost through five innings, threw 79 pitches. I think it was a good spring training outing. He had to work out of the stretch a little. It was another good step forward for him.''

Miller inherited a two-on, two-out jam in the fifth and got the final out before adding a scoreless inning of his own in the sixth.

Dennys Reyes, another contender for a bullpen spot, didn't fare as well, giving up a run on three hits, though he did strike out two.

"When he was down in the zone, he had real good sink,'' said Francona of Reyes. "He made a couple of mistakes, but when he was down, he had real good movement.''

Sean McAdam can be reached at Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

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


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


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.