Baseball to raise ALS awareness

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Baseball will remember Lou Gehrig tomorrow with a nice gesture:

Major League Baseball will honor the 70th anniversary of Gehrig’s
farewell at 15 games on Saturday, when his speech will be read during
the seventh-inning stretch.

“It’s an honor to pay tribute to this American legend,” Commissioner Bud Selig said in initiating the leaguewide celebration.

The purpose is to raise awareness and money for research of
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or A.L.S., the incurable neurological
disease that took Gehrig’s life and now commonly bears his name.

Surprisingly, this is baseball’s first real public embrace of ALS as a cause, with tomorrow’s ceremonies only coming about as a result of an article in Newsweek last November.
Then, a law professor named Michael Goldsmith, who himself suffers from
ALS, challenged baseball to raise money and awareness in order to fight
it. To their credit, many individual teams have long focused on the
disease. The Phillies have had ALS-related events before, for example,
as have the Twins, likely due to the fact that Kent Hrbek’s father
succumbed to it early in his playing career. Given the disease’s
unofficial name and famous victim, however — victims, actually, as
Catfish Hunter also suffered from ALS — you’d think that MLB as a
whole would have been out in front of it long ago.

Better late than never, of course, and good for baseball for doing
this. Anyone who lives with ALS or has a loved one who has suffered
from it knows of its insidious nature, so anything that can be done to
raise awareness — or to raise money — to find a cure is most welcome indeed.

J.D. Martinez tells teams he prefers an outfield role

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Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.

That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.

Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.