The other guy: Punto surprised, disappointed by trade

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The other guy: Punto surprised, disappointed by trade

DENVER -- When the nine-player deal between the Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers took place Friday, it was though Nick Punto was collateral damage.

In an effort to achieve financial flexibility and re-set their Clubhouse culture, the Red Sox shipped off high-salaried, big-name stars: Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Adrian Gonzalez.

And Punto.

Punto wasn't an issue the clubhouse; to the contrary, the Red Sox loved his attitude. And his contract -- two years for 3 million -- certainly wasn't crippling. But he was part of the deal anyway, filling the Dodgers' need for an experienced utility player in the infield.

So there was Punto, literally along for the ride when the Dodgers sent a private plane to Boston to transport the ex-Red Sox players to their new home in L.A.

"I was caught off guard," said Punto as the Dodgers began a three-game series against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. "My name somehow got attached."

Punto wasn't nearly as high profile as the other Sox players sent west and he had been a member of the Red Sox for only 4 12 months. Still, the disappointment was palpable.

"I always envisioned playing in Boston and winning a world championship in Boston," he said. "That's the part that stinks -- you get to play there for a year, not even a year, and it just didn't work out."

It's been like that almost from the beginning. Punto signed with the Sox in part because of the urging of Kevin Youkilis, a close friend. But Youkilis clashed with Bobby Valentine in April, was injured in May and traded by June.

Two months later, Punto followed him out of town, his stay brief and unsuccessful.

"It was just one of those years where it didn't work out," said Punto, shaking his head. "We had the talent to do it, but we just didn't perform. Which is tough. That's the city you want to win a world championship in. I heard that from many people."

Punto has heard speculation that the Sox failed this season because of a bad mix of personalities or a lack of focus, but he says the issue was more basic.

"It definitely wasn't what everybody thought it was," said Punto, "because that group of guys was awesome. We jelled, we got along. It's almost like the media wanted to portray that clubhouse as toxic, or not working out. But the 25 guys were always together. We just underperformed; that's the bottom line.

"Everybody has injuries. That's part of the game. But the people who were healthy, we all underperformed. That's it. There's not more to it than that. It was just one of those years. We had the talent to do it and it just didn't work out."

Punto described the last few days as "crazy...chaotic. I'm kind of meeting new faces and names and trying to put them all together.''

Disappointed though he may be, Punto also realizes that, given his game, he might be better suited for the National League, where double-switches and pinch-hitting are far more prevalent than in the A.L.

"Unless you're an everyday player or a DH, obviously, I think the National League fits everybody a little better," he said. "It's fun. You have to be ready to be in the game every day. I definitely enjoy National League baseball."

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.