Royals pitcher Ventura dies in car crash in DR

Key member of KC's rotation, World Series triumph in 2015 was 25 years old

Royals pitcher Ventura dies in car crash in DR

Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a car crash in the Dominican Republic on Sunday. The tragic news was confirmed by his agency, ISE Baseball, and the Royals. Ventura was 25 years old. 

"Our prayers right now are with Yordano's family as we mourn this young man's passing," said Royals general manager Dayton Moore. "He was so young and so talented, full of youthful exuberance and always brought a smile to everyone he interacted with. We will get through this as an organization, but right now is a time to mourn and celebrate the life of Yordano."

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Quinn Roberts is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Former MLB infielder Marte dies at 33

Former MLB infielder Marte dies at 33

Former Major League infielder Andy Marte died in a car crash in the Dominican Republic on Sunday. He was 33 years old.

"Words can't express the emotions from the loss of our client Andy Marte. Gone too soon. A great person on and off the field," Marte's agency, J.M.G. baseball, said on Twitter.

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Quinn Roberts is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Winner party: Night of triumph, legacy in NYC

Winner party: Night of triumph, legacy in NYC

NEW YORK -- The last time a Major League Baseball game was played, 80 days earlier, it was a Game 7 classic with Terry Francona managing the Indians and Jon Lester coming out of the bullpen to pitch three innings for the victorious Cubs. On Saturday night, those two sat side-by-side at the 94th New York Baseball Writers' Association of America dinner, and Francona stepped up to the microphone to present his former protege with the Postseason MVP Award.

That's when an all-too-familiar theme began to emerge.

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Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com and a baseball writer since 1990. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

Houston-area Draft prospects showcase skills

35 high school players gain exposure in Prospect Development Pipeline

Houston-area Draft prospects showcase skills

HOUSTON -- He told them he'd once been where they are. He'd had the same dreams, the same butterflies.

"This is an opportunity," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "Those of us who've been in the game a long time relate to what it was like when we were going through the process."

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Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. You can follow him on Twitter @richardjustice. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Baseball world mourns Ventura, Marte

Baseball world mourns Ventura, Marte

The baseball world mourned the unexpected deaths of Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura and third baseman Andy Marte on Sunday.

Ventura, 25, died in a car crash in the Dominican Republic on Sunday. Marte, 33, also died in a separate car crash Sunday in the Dominican Republic.

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Jesse Sanchez has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rumor Roundup: Several clubs target Wieters

Rumor Roundup: Several clubs target Wieters

The Hot Stove season continues, and we're keeping you up to date with the latest free-agent news, trade buzz, rumors and more.

• Hot Stove Tracker

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MLB.com Columnist

Mike Petriello

Hard-hitting Zimmerman must elevate ball to succeed

Veteran slugger's 93.7-mph exit velocity was 12th best in Majors

Hard-hitting Zimmerman must elevate ball to succeed

Let's provide two facts about Ryan Zimmerman that initially don't seem to make a lot of sense when paired together, facts that could go a long way toward explaining his 2016 season and projecting what Washington may expect in 2017.

Fact No. 1: Zimmerman crushed the ball in 2016
His 93.7-mph average exit velocity was the 12th best of the 375 batters who had at least 100 tracked balls in play -- better than Josh Donaldson and Paul Goldschmidt. Sluggers like Nelson Cruz and Miguel Cabrera are in the Top 5; slap hitters like Billy Hamilton and Dee Gordon are in the bottom five. It's good to hit the ball hard. Obviously.

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Mike Petriello is an analyst for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Dome Sweet Dome: Bautista excited to return

Slugger: 'I had other opportunities ... but I wanted to be back here'

Dome Sweet Dome: Bautista excited to return

TORONTO - - Jay Alou always knew how much playing in Toronto meant to his client, but going through the free-agency process with Jose Bautista opened his eyes to just how special the city is to the Blue Jays' slugger.

On Wednesday, the Blue Jays and Bautista agreed to a one-year deal worth $18 million. The pact includes a $17 million option for 2018 and a $20 million vesting option for '19.

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Dhiren Mahiban is a contributor to MLB.com based in Toronto. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Lindor 1st MLB player to host Play Ball event

Indians shortstop starts program to benefit kids in his hometown

Lindor 1st MLB player to host Play Ball event

ST. MONTVERDE, Fla. -- Francisco Lindor arrived with a smile on Saturday afternoon.

Big surprise, right?

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Sale 'blown away' by Red Sox fans' welcome

Ace lefty makes first appearance with new team at Winter Weekend convention

Sale 'blown away' by Red Sox fans' welcome

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- Chris Sale figured he probably had to win some games for his new team before the knowledgeable and passionate Red Sox fans treated him like one of their own. It turns out he was wrong.

The lefty has spent the last two days at the team's annual Winter Weekend convention at Foxwoods somewhat amazed by the most enthusiastic welcome wagon he's ever seen.

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Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Netherlands carries loaded infield to WBC '17

Pitching biggest question for club aiming to continue international ascent

Netherlands carries loaded infield to WBC '17

The Kingdom of the Netherlands has improved in all three of its appearances in the World Baseball Classic, and the team will be looking to advance further in the Championship Round this time around.

As the all-time leader in European Championship titles, the Dutch National Team has seen that success translate to the WBC in the past, advancing out of pool play in each of the last two tournaments. With another talented roster led by several big names from Major League Baseball, the Dutch have to feel good about their chances in 2017.

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Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Dee takes race car for spin at Marlins Park

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Dee takes race car for spin at Marlins Park

Dee Gordon is fast. One of the fastest players in MLB, actually -- he didn't steal 30 bases in 79 games during the 2016 season by being slow, you know? But there's speed on the basepaths, and then there's driving around Marlins Park in an actual race car:

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MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

Next potential HOF inductees at each position

Next potential HOF inductees at each position

More than 18,500 men have played Major League Baseball, but only 220 of those players -- a group that now includes Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez -- have gained entry into the Hall of Fame. That amounts to roughly 1.2 percent, which sounds about right, doesn't it? Even Bernie Sanders would agree that a Hall of Fame should seek to represent the 1 percent, not the 99 percent.

But in 81 years of voting for the Hall, some positions on the field have been better-represented than others. What follows is a position-by-position rundown of the raw numbers of representation (the totals account for the additional 29 Negro League players who are in the Hall), with an eye on what the future holds.

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Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rick rolls: Porcello taking whirlwind in stride

AL Cy Young Award winner welcomes growing acclaim in typical low-key fashion

Rick rolls: Porcello taking whirlwind in stride

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- For Rick Porcello, a whirlwind Saturday started at the Red Sox Winter Weekend, a festive event that gives fans a chance to have up-close interactions with their favorite players. It will finish at the New York Baseball Writers Dinner, where Porcello will formally receive his American League Cy Young Award trophy.

These are exciting times for the right-hander, who had a coming-of-age season after several years of grinding away.

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Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

'No Runs DMC' trio honored by NY writers

'No Runs DMC' trio honored by NY writers

NEW YORK -- The Yankees' dominant "No Runs DMC" relief trio was honored one final time on Saturday, as Dellin Betances, Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller were recognized with the "Willie, Mickey and the Duke Award" by the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Betances, Chapman and Miller comprised a powerful force, combining for 41 saves and a 2.35 ERA over 148 appearances. They registered a 41.8 percent strikeout ratio, and the Yankees were 19-2 when all three relievers appeared in the same game.

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Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Braves add veteran Suzuki as backstop insurance

Braves add veteran Suzuki as backstop insurance

ATLANTA -- Instead of gambling on the possibility Tyler Flowers will remain healthy enough this season to negate the glaring weakness in their backup-catching department, the Braves made a slight upgrade on Saturday, when they agreed to terms on a one-year, $1.5 million contract with Kurt Suzuki.

A Major League source confirmed agreement on this deal, which is pending a physical. The team hasn't confirmed the contract. Suzuki could earn an additional $2.5 million in incentives that will be based on the amount of playing time he gets, as he will enter 2017 projected to serve as Atlanta's backup catcher.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Beltre: Andrus like a 'kid on the field'

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Beltre: Andrus like a 'kid on the field'

Ever wonder how Adrian Beltre puts up with teammate Elvis Andrus, what with all the unwanted head-touching and infield pantomiming? That's easy: He simply thinks of the shortstop as a child. 

At Rangers Fan Fest on Saturday, Beltre revealed that he's prepared for his children when he gets home because he's spent all day with the shortstop. 

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Red Sox brass to talk future role with Big Papi

Legendary slugger to join front office in tour of Dominican academy

Red Sox brass to talk future role with Big Papi

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- When the Red Sox meet with David Ortiz next week to tour their academy in the Dominican Republic, they will also talk to the retired slugger about his potential role going forward with the club.

Despite some of the playful chatter that has developed on social media in recent weeks, designated hitter doesn't figure to be part of that discussion.

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Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

FanFest a thrill for Astros players, fans alike

Altuve, Springer and McCann at event, which draws more than 26,000

FanFest a thrill for Astros players, fans alike

HOUSTON -- The Astros passed out more than 26,000 vouchers for their annual FanFest on Saturday at Minute Maid Park, and the crush of orange-and-blue-clad fans who clamored for autographs and pictures with players while taking part in other activities was a clear sign that the team is as popular as it's been in years.

Established players like Jose Altuve, Collin McHugh and George Springer and new Astros Charlie Morton and Brian McCann were among more than two dozen current and former players who took part in the day-long festival that included fan activities like running the bases, throwing in the bullpen and question-and-answer forums with players.

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Puck Showalter: O's Jones has hockey gig?

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Puck Showalter: O's Jones has hockey gig?

It's been more than two months since the Cubs took home the Commissioner's Trophy, and we've still got more than two months until Opening Day (not that we're counting, or anything). If you think you can't wait for baseball, just think of Adam Jones -- he can't even remember the last time he got to pull some shenanigans.

Luckily, though, the O's center fielder has found a way to pass the time: work as an off-ice official for the San Diego Gulls, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks. 

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Stroman excited for '17, new red Jays jerseys

Stroman excited for '17, new red Jays jerseys

TORONTO -- Entering his fourth season with the Blue Jays, Marcus Stroman feels stronger than ever before, especially regarding his surgically repaired left knee. The right-hander has spent the offseason working with therapist Nikki Huffman, who joined the Blue Jays from Stroman's alma mater Duke University, at the team's facility in Florida.

"My knee is 100 percent now. It's stronger than it's ever been, so I'm excited for this year and I'm extremely confident, too," Stroman said on Friday. "Having a stronger landing leg is a big deal, so it's going to allow me to do a lot of things: velocity, go deeper into games, be more accurate. I take pride in my body and it's at a point now where I've taken huge strides this year."

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Dhiren Mahiban is a contributor to MLB.com based in Toronto. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mahtook ready to compete for Tigers' CF job

Mahtook ready to compete for Tigers' CF job

DETROIT -- The Tigers introduced fans to their newest outfielder, Mikie Mahtook, at TigerFest on Saturday, three days after his trade from the Rays. But the former Rays first-round pick needed no introduction to Comerica Park.

He was wrapping up his rookie season two years ago when he rolled into Detroit and put on an offensive display, going 4-for-10 with a double, triple, home run and five runs scored. The Rays lost two out of three in the series, but the former LSU standout made an impression.

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Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Yu focused on elbow, not contract

Yu focused on elbow, not contract

DALLAS -- Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish is approaching free agency, but he doesn't seem too worried about it.

"It's not about my contract," Darvish said at Friday's Texas Rangers Awards Dinner. "Coming back from Tommy John [surgery] for the second year, I want to see how my body reacts and how I do. ... Show what kind of pitcher I am."

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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

'Thrill beyond thrills': Sox legends recount HOF call

Boggs, Eckersley, Martinez, Rice and Fisk talk Cooperstown at Winter Weekend

'Thrill beyond thrills': Sox legends recount HOF call

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- Put five Hall of Famers who all played for the Red Sox on a stage together, and you're going to get some great stories.

The captivating "Call to the Hall" panel was a clear highlight of the festivities at Red Sox Winter Weekend.

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Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Fans warm up to familiar faces at TigerFest

Fans warm up to familiar faces at TigerFest

DETROIT -- The temperatures downtown felt more like Opening Day than TigerFest as they crept into the 50s on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

"I think this is my first TigerFest where there wasn't snow on the ground," utility man Andrew Romine said.

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Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Luhnow sees pieces in place for Astros

'I feel good about the roster we have right now,' GM says at club's FanFest

Luhnow sees pieces in place for Astros

HOUSTON -- General manager Jeff Luhnow said he doesn't expect the Astros to make any additional moves before the start of Spring Training in 3 1/2 weeks, though they continue to monitor the market for starting pitching and left-handed relief.

The Astros, who will see pitchers and catchers report Feb. 14 to the team's new facility in West Palm Beach, Fla., have been targeting starting pitching the entire offseason, beyond adding Charlie Morton in November. They've been linked to nearly every available starter on the trade market, most notably Chris Archer, Jose Quintana and Sonny Gray.

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Sale tries on new jersey for Red Sox fans

Sale tries on new jersey for Red Sox fans

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- Wearing a Red Sox jersey for the first time and making his first public appearance on behalf of his new team, Chris Sale was greeted by a room full of roars from the roughly 2,500 fans gathered in the Grand Theater of Foxwoods Resort and Casino.

The event was the kickoff of the third annual Red Sox Winter Weekend, and Sale was the last player introduced on Friday, setting off a standing ovation.

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Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rangers considering options at first base/DH

Daniels also looking at corner outfield spot for 2017

Rangers considering options at first base/DH

ARLINGTON -- When Jon Daniels first became the Rangers' general manager 12 years ago, he said he was asked the same two questions almost every day.

"When are you going to get some pitching and how old are you," Daniels said. "We tried to do something about the pitching."

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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Jim Duquette

Ideal landing spots for top remaining FAs

Napoli a strong fit for return to Rangers

Ideal landing spots for top remaining FAs

With Jose Bautista and Mark Trumbo now off the market, the focus now shifts to the remaining free agents still capable of significantly improving a team's roster before Spring Training.

Given Bautista was arguably the best offensive piece available, his return to the Blue Jays could have a ripple effect on the rest of the free-agent class.

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Jim Duquette, who was the Mets' GM in 2004, offers his opinions as a studio analyst and columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rangers to retire Pudge's uniform number

Rangers to retire Pudge's uniform number

DALLAS -- The Rangers have made it official: No. 7 is being retired.

The Rangers brought their 2017 Awards Banquet to an end on Friday night by announcing they are retiring Ivan Rodriguez's number this season. Former general manager Tom Grieve made the announcement at the end of the banquet, although the official ceremony won't be until August on a date to be determined.

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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989 and for MLB.com since 2006. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.