Russell Martin ahead of schedule, set for opener

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Russell Martin was initially expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a groin injury suffered early in spring training, but he’s far enough ahead of schedule that manager Joe Torre now expects the 27-year-old to be ready for Opening Day:

That’s what we’re expecting right now. Once we made the commitment to play him in the regular spring-training games, we pretty much made that choice, as opposed to starting him on the DL. I’m very comfortable. I think the only thing he’ll be a little behind on is getting his rhythm and timing. But hopefully he’ll get that done shortly.

Over the past three seasons Martin logged more innings behind the plate than any other catcher, leading baseball in innings caught in both 2007 and 2009 while ranking second to Jason Kendall in 2008.
In other words, his not rushing back from what was at first deemed a fairly significant injury could have turned into a positive thing in terms of keeping him healthy and fresh all season. For his career Martin has hit .287 with an .800 OPS in the first half compared to .263 with a .744 OPS in the second half, and August and September have been his two worst months.

Walt Weiss returning as Rockies manager in 2016

Walt Weiss
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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As first reported by FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Rockies have decided to bring back manager Walt Weiss for the 2016 season — the final year of a three-year deal he signed after his debut season in 2013.

Weiss carries a rough 208-278 managerial record through his first three years at the helm for Colorado, but it’s not like the rosters he’s been managing have been built to win.

The biggest need for the Rockies this winter is pitching — both starters and relievers — and general manager Jeff Bridich is also being retained for the 2016 season to try to find some.

Colorado’s starters and relievers combined for a 5.04 ERA in 2015, worst in MLB.

Colorado’s offense produced 737 runs, ranking fifth in the major leagues.

Astros flashing power early in AL Wild Card Game

Colby Rasmus
AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Houston got on the board first in Tuesday night’s American League Wild Card Game at Yankee Stadium when Colby Rasmus led off the top of the second inning with a solo home run to deep right field against Masahiro Tanaka.

It was the first career postseason homer for Rasmus, whose only other postseason experience came in 2009 with St. Louis. He slugged 25 home runs during the 2015 regular season and will be looking to cash in as a free agent whenever the Astros’ postseason runs come to an end. A big October (and perhaps early November) would obviously help that.

Tanaka retired the next two batters after the Rasmus bomb, but he gave up a single and two walks to load the bases before eventually inducing an inning-ending fielder’s choice groundout from Jose Altuve. Tanaka’s shakiness extended into the third and fourth innings, with Carlos Gomez adding a solo shot to left field in the top of the fourth.

Houston leads 2-0 heading into the bottom of the fifth. Astros starter Dallas Keuchel has looked sharp on three days of rest, tallying five strikeouts through four scoreless frames.