Magadan: Gonzalez 'as good as it gets'

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Magadan: Gonzalez 'as good as it gets'

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

Dave Magadan was Adrian Gonzalez's first hitting coach in the big leagues. Now, five years later, they're about to be reunited and Magadan can't wait.

"He's as good as it gets," said Magadan, the Red Sox hitting instructor, from his Florida home Saturday. "He was very advanced when I had him in San Diego and that was his first full year in the big leagues. He was very smooth, very smart. Even then, he had a real good feel for how he was going to get pitched."

At the time, in the spring of 2006, Magadan took Gonzalez's confidence and self-awareness the wrong way.

"I didn't say anything at the time," Magadan recalled, "but I remember thinking to myself: 'This guy thinks he's really smart.' I thought, 'Wait until he faces big league pitching.' But you know what? He was really smart. He was very advanced for a guy his age."

At the time, Gonzalez was not yet 24 and was ticketed for Triple A. But when incumbent first baseman Ryan Klesko elected to undergo shoulder surgery, Gonzalez stepped in as San Diego's everyday first baseman.

"He had a real good sense of his own swing," said Magadan, who was fired midway through the 2006 season. "He knew what makes a good hitter. In that way, he was very coachable. He could sit on pitches, and he had the discipline to swing at the pitch he was looking for.

"He was very advanced for a guy his age. I liked him from the get-go. Maybe he didn't open as many eyes right away because he hit the ball the other way so much and at his position, people expected him to pull the ball more. But he had the power the other way; he wasn't just hitting singles (to left field) -- he could hit the ball out."

From afar, Magadan admired how Gonzalez adapted to Petco Park, perhaps the least inviting ballpark in the big leagues for hitters.

"It got to the point where I think he could keep his head above water at Petco and do most of his damage on the road," said Magadan.

Indeed, over his career, in a breakdown that includes 59 games played with Texas in 2004 and 2005, Gonzalez has hit 107 homers on the road, compared to 61 at home; slugged .568 on the road and .440 at home; and compiled an .943 OPS away and .800 at home.

And now with the trade sending him to Boston, Gonzalez will go from one of the toughest hitter's ballparks to Fenway, one of the best.

"I think Fenway just plays right into what his strengths are," said Magadan. "He's got great power the other way. He can drive a pitch away and hit it out. He's got very good pull power, too; he's not a guy who just inside-outs the ball."

Gonzalez will be making a transition of another sort, too, going from San Diego, which made the postseason just once in his five seasons and where crowds are often modest, to Fenway, where expectations and fan involvement are far greater.

"He's got a good, even personality," said Magadan. "It's going to be different for him, but different in a good way. I know some guys struggle in Boston, but he's got that personality where he's got a passion for the game. I don't see it being a problem.

"There was a lot of pressure on him in San Diego, but it was a different kind of pressure. He was the big go-to guy in that lineup. Here, he's part of a deeper lineup and he doesn't have to be The Guy all the time."

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

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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.