Red Sox notes: Valentine works on balancing act

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Red Sox notes: Valentine works on balancing act

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- For the first three months of the Red Sox season, Mike Aviles was out of the starting lineup fourtimes.
On the current road trip, now six games old, he's been out for the same number: four.
The Sox are trying to get a better look at rookie shortstop Jose Iglesias, and Aviles has been squeezed out of the lineup as a result.
He played second base the first game in Toronto while Dustin Pedroia was on paternity leave, and returned to shortstop the next night. But Aviles has been absent from the lineup the last four games.
"Pretty hard (balancing act),'' conceded Bobby Valentine of determing playing time for the two. "Mike really wants to play and I understand that totally. But Iggy's gotten on a little roll here so I'd just like to see if that roll can continue. It's tough, though. Really tough.''
Iglesias has had better at-bats of late and has drawn walks in three of his last five starts, but remains hitless on the trip.
When asked if had given consideration to playing Aviles at third base, enabling both Aviles and Iglesias to play in the same infield, Valentine said: "I'm not sure that's fair to (Aviles) - he hasn't taken a ground ball there all year.''
Pedro Ciriaco, who has started all six of the games on the road trip at third base, likely will play the outfield in Thursday's road trip finale.
"I think he's going to be play there (Thursday),'' said Valentine.
Valentine was unsure where Ciriaco would play. Left field would be the least challenging for him, but Jacoby Ellsbury, who has started the last six games on turf -- three at Toronto's Rogers Centre and three at Tropicana Field -- might be in need of a night off.
Ciriaco played some outfield in spring training and has made one start this season in left field, when the Sox were short of outfielders.
"Is it OK to put him out there? Is it fair to the starting pitcher?'' wondered Valentine. "I don't know... I don't know. Maybe. If he makes a great play, it is.''
Ciriaco could improve his value to the Sox -- or another team -- if he could learn to play the outfield and offer more versatility.
"That's more like a winter-time, spring training project,'' said Valentine, "if he's going to be an all-purpose guy or something like that. But he's there to play there. I guess (that would make him) pretty valuable. I don't know what the shape of our team will be next year. He could play out there, I'd be willing to bet.''

James Loney came into Wednesday night hitting just .263 with a homer and six RBI in 19 starts for the Sox, but he's opened some eyes with his glove.
Loney has shown himself to be smooth at the position, with good range toward second and a strong throwing arm.
"Adrian (Gonzalez) is a tough comparison,'' said Valentine of Loney's predecessor, for whom he was traded last month, "in that (Gonzalez) positions himself differently and he's excellent. But after watching Loney, I think his glove is comparable. The throw he made to second on the double play (Monday) night was excellent. I hadn't seen him throw a lot, but fielding, he's very good.''

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.