Tim Beckham, Joe Benson

Rays demote former No. 1 picks Matt Bush and Tim Beckham

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It’s not every day a team sends down two former No. 1 draft picks.

Reliever Matt Bush, the first overall selection in the 2004 draft, and shortstop Tim Beckham, the first pick in 2008, were both demoted as part of the Rays’ roster cuts on Sunday.

Both moves were expected. The more surprising demotion was that of outfielder Brandon Guyer, who looked like he had a shot at a bench spot before going 4-for-25 with no extra-base hits or walks in Grapefruit League play.

Bush, a shortstop when he was drafted first by the Padres eight years ago, pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings this spring. Unfortunately, he put himself into a hole before the exhibition season even started. In an intrasquad game, he threw the pitch that left Evan Longoria with a badly bruised hand and knocked the All-Star out of competition for two weeks.

Beckham didn’t impress. He was 1-for-24 with eight strikeouts and one walk in camp.

Both players are expected to open the season at Triple-A Durham, Beckham as the team’s regular shortstop. Bush will probably work in a setup role.

The Rays’ other notable cut today was reliever Dane De La Rosa. He was demoted despite striking out 11 in 5 2/3 scoreless innings this spring.

Yordano Ventura killed in an auto accident

CLEVELAND, OH -  JUNE 2:  Starting pitcher Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals jokes with teammates as he walks off the field after the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on June 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Terrible, terrible news: Christian Moreno of ESPN reports that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura has been killed in an automobile accident in the Dominican Republic. His death has been confirmed by police. He was only 25 years-old. There are as of yet no details about the accident.

Ventura was a four-year veteran, having debuted in 2013 but truly bursting onto the scene for the Royals in 2014. That year he went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 183 innings, ascending to the national stage along with the entire Royals team with some key performances in that year’s ALDS and World Series. The following year Ventura won 13 games for the World Champion Royals and again appeared in the playoffs and World Series.

Ventura was often in the middle of controversy — he found himself in several controversies arising out of his habit of hitting and brushing back hitters — but he was an undeniably electric young talent who was poised to anchor the Royals rotation for years to come. His loss, like that of Jose Fernandez just this past September, is incalculable to both his team, his fans and to Major League Baseball as a whole.

Our thoughts go out to his family, his friends, his teammates and his fans.

Report: Tim Lincecum is not ready for retirement

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 29:  Tim Lincecum #55 of the Los Angeles Angels during the second inning of the game against the Boston Red Sox at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 29, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
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Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).

Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.

While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.