Notes: Varitek looks like Sox' primary catcher

191542.jpg

Notes: Varitek looks like Sox' primary catcher

By SeanMcAdam
CSNNE.com

BALTIMORE -- No official announcement has been forthcoming, and it's likely none is on its way. But it's hard not to come away with the feeling that, for the time being at least, Jason Varitek is the Red Sox primary starting catcher.

Varitek was behind the plate Tuesday night as the Sox opened a series here with the Orioles.

The last two times through the rotation, Varitek has caught each start by Jason Varitek, Dasuke Matsuzaka and Monday's starter, Clay Buccholz.

It seems that Terry Francona will stick with that rotation, with Jarrod Saltalamacchia pairing with Jon Lester and John Lackey.

"Back when the season started,'' said Francona, "you guys asked me, 'How much is Tek going to catch?' I said he would catch more than the average backup catcher and that some it would be based on production and how guys are doing. He's been catching so well. I just think it made some sense.

"We're playing pretty well with both of them (8-1 in the last 9 games heading into Monday). We had a hole to dig ourselves out of and I think sometimes we're just trying to play guys to help us win.''

Varitek has just three hits all season in 30 at-bats (.100), but the presence of lefty Zack Britton played a role in Francona's decision too, since he would prefer to have the switch-hitting Varitek hit righthanded when possible.

But offense aside, it's hard not to look at the two catchers' won-loss record. While the Sox are 3-9 with Saltalamacchia behind the plate, they are 8-3 with Varitek after Tuesday's loss.

"He's pretty good back there,'' said Francona. "And again, that's no knock in Salty. But that's Tek's strength and I think sometimes it's important to go ahead and play him.''

Francona indicated that Varitek would likely catch Wednesday night, too, when Beckett is scheduled to start.

A couple of streaks came to an abrupt end for the Red Sox pitching staff Tuesday night:

-- The team's 20-inning scoreless streak, dating back to the eighth inning of Friday's win in Anaheim, came to an end when the Orioles pushed a run across in the bottom of the second inning.

-- With that run, the Orioles also brought an end to a scoreless streak pieced together by Red Sox starters. That stretch stood at 23 straight scoreless innings -- one from Beckett, six from Lester, and eight each from Matsuzaka and Lackey -- before Buchholz pitched a scoreless first Tuesday, upping the total to 24.

-- Tuesday also marked the first time since April 15 that a Red Sox starter had allowed more than two earned runs in a start. Back on April 15, the starter was also Buchholz.

Carl Crawford, who had multihit efforts in each of his last two games, was held hitless, going 0-for-4 . . . Adrian Gonzalez stroked his seventh double of the season to open the eighth. He leads the Red Sox in that department . . . Jed Lowrie, who had been the Sox' hottest hitter, was 0-for-4, marking just the third time this season that he'd been in the starting lineup and failed to record a base hit . . . David Ortiz was 1-for-2 with a walk off Britton, making him 9-for-25 (.360) against lefthanded pitching this season.

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.