Papelbon has something to prove this year

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Papelbon has something to prove this year

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. Jonathan Papelbon knows he has something to prove this spring. But, it has nothing to do with last season, when he posted career-worst numbers in several categories. It has nothing to do with the addition of Bobby Jenks. It has nothing to do with the emergence of Daniel Bard.

I think every year you got something to prove, man, he said. Im not coming into spring training saying, Everything is going to be handed to me and I dont have anything to work on, and I dont have to go out there and prove anything. Every year every player has something to prove, regardless if youre in a long-term deal, youre not in a long-term deal, you had a good season last year, you didnt have a good season last year. I think every player comes in trying to prove their worth every year.

Papelbon didnt have a good season last year. He knows that.

I wouldnt say the word discouraging, he said. I would say for me I wasnt discouraged. I tried to search for answers too much and obviously as a athlete you cant do that. I never got discouraged. I always was trying to better myself and find out the next answer. At times it was a little bit of overkill for me and thats why Im coming into this spring trying to simplify my delivery and everything else that goes along with it.

It has worked so far. In one inning against the Marlins Saturday afternoon in the Red Sox 11-2 loss to the Marlins at City of Palms Park, Papelbon faced three batters, striking out one. He has not given up a hit, a run, or a walk in two outings, spanning two innings, this spring.

I think the biggest thing Im pleased with is my fastball right now, he said. The balls coming out of my hand really well and got that late life to it which is always a plus for me. Ive been able to get out there and throw my slider and split just as much, which has been a key for me because its something Im going to have to definitely be able to do this year. Both of those pitches feel really well.

Manager Terry Francona was pleased with what he saw from his closer.

I thought Pap was really encouraging, he said. His direction to the plate, the ball was down and you didn't see that fastball wandering.

That late life on Papelbons pitches was missing for most of last season.

My delivery wasnt on time, he said. Timings everything and I didnt have that timing last year.

He has it now, and would like to continue working on it.

I dont really want to work on anything else next, he said. I just want to continue to repeat my delivery and continue to work on my other pitches and continue to be on time with my delivery. I think thats going to be the main focus this spring, is just being able to go day in and day out and repeat the good delivery.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

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.