Miller shines in return from injury

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Miller shines in return from injury

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Pitching for the first time since he felt some stiffness in his left elbow, Andrew Miller would have been happy just to be pain-free Friday night.

The fact that he showed dominant stuff was a bonus.

"Tonight was probably the best stuff I've had, across the board, in the last couple of years,'' said a satisfied Miller.

Pitching the fifth, Miller walked leadoff hitter Joe Mauer, but then retired the next three hitters, two by strikeouts.

"(The elbow) felt real good,'' said Miller. "Hopefully it's something that's in the past. The real test will come (Saturday) morning, but I feel real good right now.''

Miller had been scheduled to pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals on March 8, but that outing was scratched when Miller felt some stiffness in the elbow.

"I think you're a little bit worried any time your arm hurts,'' he said. "It wasn't too uncommon a feeling. I'd like to think that, during the season, it was something I wouldn't have missed any time for. From the day (when I first felt it), every day felt pretty good and it got better pretty quickly. I've been pain-free since then.''

Miller's goal is to become a member of the starting rotation, but he realizes he's got some ground to make up after being shut down for a week and a half.

"There's still time to build up and lengthen out,'' he said. "But starters now are going five innings. The goal for me is to be with the big club, but if starting's going to be in the equation, it's going to have to happen pretty fast.

"I've got a ways to go if I'm going to be expected to go throw seven or eight innings...I hope this setback doesnt' eliminate me from that.''

If he doesn't make the rotation, he hopes he has a more meaningful role than serving as the long man, as he did for parts of last season.

"I don't think that's really a role anyone can succeed in,'' he said. "I don't think going long periods of time without pitching, then being expected to go into a game in the first inning of a 10-run game is really a way to succeed.

"I've never been in a situation where I've been asked to consistently get lefties out, or throw an inning or basically pitch three or four times a week. I think I'm capable of it. I would welcome the opoprtunity. My goal is to be part of the team. I think we have a great team and I want to be part of it.''

Whether he starts or relieves, Miller knows the key is to show better consistency.

"That's been my downfall historically,'' said Miller. "I've got to avoid the hiccups I've had in the past where I have a rough one or two (outings) in a row. A good starter is someone who goes out and gives you a chance (to win) every time -- not five out of six, or four out of five.''

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.