Maddon on Ramirez: 'We were counting on him'

223043.jpg

Maddon on Ramirez: 'We were counting on him'

By SeanMcAdam
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- Joe Maddon was looking forward to seeing what he and the Tampa Bay Rays could get out of Manny Ramirez.

Of course, after Ramirez tested positive for a banned substance this spring and elected to abruptly retire last Friday rather than face the consequences, Maddon will never know.

"I mean this very sincerely -- I really enjoyed him,'' said Maddon before Monday night's game with the Red Sox. "We had a lot of good conversations in spring training. I really thought he was going to help us this year a lot. Obviously, it's not going to turn out that way. But from me to him personally, it was very good. Organizationally, it's not so good because we counted om him to become the No. 4 hitter.

"We're making all kinds of adjustments right now. But on a one-to-one basis, he was very good.''

Maddon was under the impression that Ramirez, after taking care of a family issue, was working out at a facility in Chicago, where the Rays were playing the White Sox. He had Ramirez's name in the cleanup spot that night when he got a call from general manager Andrew Freidman informing him of Ramirez's positive test results and subsequent decision to quit.

"It's a letdown, obviously'' acknowledged Maddon. "We were counting on him. Like I said, I really felt good about him. I thought he was moving very well, I thought he was interacting with us well, I thought he was happy from all the indicators I had. I really thought it was going to benefit all of us, but we never had that chance.''

Ramirez has had trouble with all five of the clubs for which he played in his career, but Maddon -- like others before him -- thought it would be different.

"You always do,'' said Maddon. "You have to approach it like it's going to be different. You can't approach it waiting for the other shoe to fall. You know that it may, but I wasn't anticipating it. I really thought we had gotten off to a good start with Ramirez.

"You always feel that you can be the one who can make somewhat of a difference. But in this situation, we could not.''

Maddon spoke with Ramirez last Friday after the veteran slugger's decision to retire.

"Briefly, we spoke,'' said Maddon. "I didn't expect that to happen because he and I had only been together for a brief period of time. He was very kind in his comments. He expressed disappointment in himself to me, but also had really high praise about us as an organization.''

Maddon added that Ramirez didn't offer an apology, but "just said he was disappointed. I wasn't looking for an apology, actually. He spoke to me man-to-man, player-to-manager, so I didn't think he owed me an apology.''

Meanwhile, drama aside, the poor start -- the Jays were 1-8 before Monday with a .150 batting average with runners in scoring position -- had the Rays in last place in A.L. East, but Maddon wasn't about to panic.

"The consolation prize is that the Sox have been struggling, too,'' he said. "You have the ascension of the Blue Jays and Orioles, but you don't know how that's going to turn out over the long haul. If the Sox and Yankees were running away with everything right now, it might be a little bit disconcerting. The fact that we're a little stacked in the division is more promising.''

Maddon noted that when the Rays went to the World Series in 2008, they weathered two seven-game losing streaks. But because the poor stretch of play has taken place in the first two weeks of the season, more attention is paid to it.

"It's exaggerated -- I get it,'' he said. "Do we want to be in this place? No. I didn't anticipate it. But we've got to keep working through it and believe that we're going to come out on the other side. And I do.''

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

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

cleveland-indians-andy-marte-killed-12217.jpg

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

kansas-city-royals-yordano-ventura-killed-12217.jpg

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.