Westmoreland participates in spring training

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Westmoreland participates in spring training

Ryan Westmoreland is happy to take it all in.

Last March, he underwent brain surgery to have a cavernous malformation removed from his brain stem. Now, less than a year later, he's in Fort Myers, rehabbing and working out with members of the Red Sox organization for spring training.

He knows there's a long road in front of him before he's able to return to playing baseball, but for now, he's happy he's progressed to the point that he can participate in "baseball activities."

"Doing the things I'm doing now feels great," he said. "I feel more blessed to be out here, just around my buddies and to have a second chance at life . . . that's special for me.

"I've taken it for granted in the past. Just the little drills. I know I'm inspiring and helping a lot of the guys out there because there's stuff they think is monotonous, but if you look at the rehab I'm doing, it makes them appreciate it more."

There is no timetable for when Westmoreland can play again. He says it's better that way.

"I've never had too many long-term goals," he said. "It's about staying even headed, and taking it one day at a time. If I get ahead of myself, I'm going to be expecting too much of myself . . . It's just a day at a time, keep it short and get better every day. That's really my goal and I don't plan on changing it."

For now, the plan is to enjoy his time at spring training, and remain thankful he's progressed as much as he has.

"It's nice to be out in a baseball environment with my friends," he said. "It's different than being in a rehab facility."

He continued, "I'm just excited to keep it going and see what lies ahead."

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.