McAdam: Lackey's issues go beyond the mound

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McAdam: Lackey's issues go beyond the mound

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

TORONTO - He had been tagged for nine runs on 10 hits, lurching through his start before finally imploding in the seventh inning when the game quickly went from a one-run contest to a one-sided laugher for the Toronto Blue Jays.

It marked the fourth time in seven starts that he had given up at least six runs, but as John Lackey turned around in front of his locker to answer questions, the poor outing seemed like the least of his concerns.

On the mound, Lackey had been even more demonstrable than usual, shaking his head in disbelief when he disagreed with home plate umpire Gary Darling's ball-and strike calls even when, as was the case most times, his outrage seemed misplaced.

His habit for throwing his hands up in the air when balls got through the infield or found open space in the outfield was seemingly more acute than usual. When Jose Bautista's liner in the seventh hit the wall on the fly, nowhere near where Carl Crawford had positioned himself, his disgust was somewhat understandable if unnecessarily showy; when he registered the same anger after a bullet off the bat of John McDonald shot past a diving Kevin Youkilis just inside the third-base bag, the demonstration seemed ridiculous and self-pitying.

And now, taking questions, Lackey continued to lash out and point fingers.

Asked to evaluate his start, Lackey rolled his eyes and snapped: "Come on, man, ask a damn question."

Commenting on the five-run seventh which featured two walks and two base hits after two were out he noted: "Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. That's pretty much the story of the whole damn year."

Later, told that Terry Francona had said that he wanted to leave Lackey in to face McDonald because the pitcher had had success against the veteran infielder in the past, Lackey said: "Everybody's had success with him in the past. You can't give hits to him when you've got other guys in the lineup that can hurt you."

That stinging assessment of McDonald, a journeyman infielder, represented a serious breach of baseball etiquette and violated a code in which players seldom, if ever, mock an opponent's ability.

He recounted the fourth inning when, after allowing a homer to McDonald on an 2-and-0 pitch, "I gave up a single to Rajai Davis and the guy scores on no other hits."

That represented either a bit of revisionist history or a jab at catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia - or both.

What Lackey conveniently neglected to mention was that Davis had swiped second despite a pitchout and strong throw from Saltalamacchia, a sure sign that the steal was the result of Davis getting a huge jump on the pitcher.

After Davis stole third, too, Lackey couldn't keep the ball in the infield as Yunel Escobar delivered a sacrfice fly, scoring Davis.

But after denigrating McDonald and pointing fingers at teammates, the most troubling comment from Lackey came at the end of his session with reporters when he concluded: "Everything in my life sucks right now."

One reporter, seeking clarification, asked Lackey if he was okay. Lackey at first seemed puzzled by the query, then shifted to anger, warning reporters of the consequences if they chose to pursue off-the-field questions.

(In spring training, it was reported that Lackey's wife, Krista, was diagnosed with breast cancer.)

Saltalamacchia, for his part, maintained that Lackey didn't seem distracted by anything on the mound.

"I've never seen him this focused and this determined," Saltalamacchia said. "He wanted it. Every inning in the dugout he was talking to me and feeling good."

But that depiction seemed at odds with the rest of the night, with Lackley alternately defensive and aggressive, self-pitying and accusatory.

Nearly a quarter of the way through his season, Lackey's ERA is a bloated 8.01, among the highest of any starter taking a regular turn in either league.

But to watch and listen to him Wednesday night was to come away with the distinct impression that poor pitching is merely a symptom of some larger issues.

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.