Westmoreland back to being one of the guys

191542.jpg

Westmoreland back to being one of the guys

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. A little over a year ago, Ryan Westmoreland was getting ready to begin his second season of professional baseball. A 2009 New York-Penn League All-Star for the Lowell Spinners, named by Baseball America as the Red Sox No. 1 prospect and the NYPLs top prospect, Westmoreland had every reason to be excited for the start of a new season.

But in early March 2010, he was diagnosed with a cavernous malformation in his brain. He required surgery, which was performed in Arizona and initially took his sight, his hearing in one ear, and his motor functions. His future was uncertain. His baseball future was barely a consideration then.

I tried to not let that cross my mind, but it was kind of inevitable, he said. I had the days where I was really down on myself, and I said, You know, am I going to play again? I was really unsure about the future . . . I just really tried to limit the days that I got down on myself.

But he is back playing baseball now. Hes not ready for games yet. But, at the minor-league camp at the player development complex, Westmoreland works out, just as all the minor-leaguers do.

I feel great, he said. Just to be on the field again and be doing baseball activities is one thing. But to be doing it at a level that I'm doing it now, at a really advanced level. I feel like I'm performing pretty well in the cages and on the field there. So, overall, I feel great about not only being on the field but about performing as well.

Hes doing just about everything, he said taking batting practice, throwing, running required of a baseball player. Just as important, hes doing it with the other players and not by himself.

I'm not to the caliber I was last year, he said. I'm doing sprints, doing some long-distance stuff as far as condition. I'm doing most of the things that every other player is doing. And hitting, I go about it in a way that every player does their own hitting. Everybody does batting practice. It's just good to just be able to fit into the mold of all the professional baseball players and not kind of seeing the one odd guy out taking batting practice by himself now. I'm taking it with the team and everybody. It's a good feeling.

His short-term goals are simple.

Immediate goal is just all these little things, he said. Just trying to smooth them out, the running, the hitting, the eyesight, everything. I'm just trying to smooth them out and get them to where I know was last year prior to all the symptoms. So really no long-term goals, just short day-to-day goals that if I keep succeeding, the day ahead is going to lead what I want.

He still gets fatigued. He still has occasional problems with his balance.

But, I started out with basically nothing and now I'm at a very advanced level, he said. And the Red Sox staff and the doctors were all impressed.

He doesnt know when hell be ready to play in games again. He has no timetable for that, but he knows it will take care of itself.

I just feel like when I'm ready to play, when I feel like I'm going to be able to perform well, I'm going to go out there and play, he said. The goal at the end of the day is always get to Fenway. If it happens, it happens. If not, it doesn't. But, of course, the sooner the better. I'm just hoping for the best every day and if I play, it's going to be meant to be. If not, it's also meant to be. So, we'll see what happens.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

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.