Beckett strikes out five in 'ruined' spring loss

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Beckett strikes out five in 'ruined' spring loss

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

BRADENTON, Fla. Josh Beckett didnt leave the McKechnie Field mound Sunday afternoon feeling all warm and fuzzy.But there were plenty of things to like about the right-handers third start of spring training before it dropped into a vat of garbage in the fifth frame.Beckett is far removed from post-concussion symptoms and had cranked up enough arm strength to get on the mound for a fifth inning of work in the 9-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. And he flashed enough stuff to fan five Bucs hitters in the process of stretching out his prized right arm.There were plenty of complaints from Beckett and righty reliever Scott Atchison about the disparity in size between the bullpen mound and the game mound. Beckett nearly stumbled after his first pitch of the game to center fielder Jose Tabata, and spent a good minute cleaning off his spikes in a fit of pique behind the mound.But lets focus on the results rather than the excuses when it comes to Becketts afternoon.Beckett had impressive crackle and velocity on his mid-90s heat, caught several Pirates hitters chasing with the curveball that eluded him far too often last season, and gave another piece of mounting proof he will have plenty to offer once the regular season begins.I was feeling good and can specifically point to the middle three innings, said Beckett. I threw some good changeups today. I threw some good breaking balls behind in the count. The strength is good. I think Ive pretty much caught up from the post-concussion syndrome, or whatever you call it.For now, though, Beckett was simply happy to get up and down for five innings of spring work in the books. He took full responsibility for the solo home runs allowed, and felt badly for the mess left for Atchison in the fifth that contributed mightily to the lopsided score. Beckett was holding a 3-1 lead going into the fifth, and allowed a home run, walk, double and hit by pitch before he headed to the showers.The good thing about spring training: Beckett can drown his sorrows in shrimp and crab legs in Fort Myers on Sunday night and then be ready to push deeper into an exhibition game his next time out.I was a little behind myself out there in the fifth inning, said Beckett, who said the fifth-inning mess wasnt due to fatigue of any kind. Its a shame that a whole outing gets ruined by one inning. But thats the case here. I felt like I ruined it because I pitched well in the middle three innings.The first inning was getting used to the mound here. Theres a big difference between the bullpen mound and the game mound, and at least I had those middle innings to get my work in. Obviously the arm build-up is good, but the results in the fifth inning werent.Beckett now has three walks and nine strikeouts in 9 23 innings of spring work for the Sox that screams out vintage Sox ace, but hes also sporting a 6.51 ERA over those three starts.He seemed to have made peace with his work before the regulars van left for Fort Myers while the minor-leaguers were still playing out the string, and catcher Jason Varitek likewise saw nothing but positives with the stuff and the spirit in his first moments catching him this year. I thought he did good until the fifth inning, said Varitek. It was the first time Ive gotten to see him on the field. Hes just like everybody else. Taking steps, gaining innings and really building himself up. He had kind of a mix with sinkers, four-seamers and curveballs. It was kind of all of the above.The one thing Beckett might leave the start a little fired up about: surrendering a sharp single to right-center off the bat of Pirates pitcher Brad Lincoln in the third frame. For a combustible personality like Beckett, its just the kind of ammunition he will store and utilize as he continues through the at-times monotonous tenor of spring training before a pivotal season in his All-Star career.There were just enough flashes against the Pirates on Sunday afternoon to believe that hes well on his way.
Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

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.