Melky Cabrera 'doubtful' for Game 5 after injuring hamstring

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Melky Cabrera injured his left hamstring last night while running out a ground ball in the sixth inning. He initially tried to stay in the game, but was replaced defensively by Brett Gardner in the next half-inning and is now considered “doubtful” for tonight’s Game 5.
Cabrera has started every playoff game in center field, but Gardner drew 63 starts there during the regular season as the Yankees ran a platoon for much of the year. In terms of overall value there isn’t much of a dropoff from Cabrera to Gardner and in some situations Gardner would be the superior option, but in this case the injury hurts New York because of Cliff Lee.
Even if the Yankees were still employing a platoon in center field the switch-hitting Cabrera would get the call against the left-handed Lee. Cabrera hit .268/.343/.420 in 178 plate appearances against lefties this season, while the left-handed-hitting Gardner has batted just .241/.310/.316 in 91 plate appearances against southpaws during his brief career. Toss in the fact that Lee is much more effective versus lefties than righties and Cabrera is clearly a better bet to do damage against the Phillies’ ace.
Joe Girardi also brought up the possibility of leaving Gardner on the bench and giving Jerry Hairston Jr. the start in place of Cabrera. Hairston started twice in center field for the Yankees during the season, which is two more starts than he made in right field before getting the nod there against Pedro Martinez in Game 2. Hairston has logged 847 innings in center field during his dozen-year career and might be a slightly better bet than Gardner against Lee, and Girardi has certainly shown a willingness to tinker.

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.