Manny Ramirez and Russell Martin sidelined with injuries

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Manny Ramirez and Russell Martin were forced to leave Friday’s game against the Cardinals due to injury, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.

Just one day after being activated from the disabled list with a hamstring injury, Ramirez left after the first half-inning due to a tight right calf muscle, the very same injury that forced him to the disabled list in late-April.

Ramirez, 38, is batting .317/.409/.516 with nine homers and 39 RBI in 186 at-bats this season. Come to think of it, we’ve probably written more about Ramirez’s various injuries than anything he has done on the field this season, if that means anything.

Martin left after an at-bat in the eighth inning due to a swollen left thumb. According to Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com, he failed to informed the team’s medical staff of the injury, even though it had been bothering him for several days.

“I remember catching a ball and kind of having a stinging sensation in
there, but I didn’t really feel it that much,” Martin said of the moment
he initially felt something after catching a particular pitch earlier
this month. “It’s always a possibility, where you mis-catch a ball or
take one off your thumb. But it kind of flared up, and that last time up
[in the eighth inning], I felt it swinging the bat.”

Martin is currently in the middle of his second straight disappointing season. The 27-year-old backstop is batting just .241 to go along with a .328 slugging percentage, five homers and 22 RBI.  

Neither player is in Saturday’s lineup against the Cardinals. According to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, they are both expected back in the lineup early next week.

Kyle Schwarber is “probably, arguably” in The Best Shape of His Life

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Joe Maddon just held his annual media availability here at the Winter Meetings. During the scrum he said that Kyle Schwarber “looked great the other day” at a Cubs community event and that . . . wait for it . . . “he’s in, probably, arguably in the best shape of his life.” Maddon went on to say that, if Schwarber looks good in spring training, he might even be the Cubs leadoff hitter in 2018.

Schwarber is only 24, but the former catcher turned outfielder is going to spend most of his career as a DH, with another team obviously, unless he shows the Cubs that he can be a regular defender. The Cubs would love to see him in better shape whether they keep him or shop him, and if it’s the latter, they’ll want to show potential trade partners that he can play defense so as not to limit his market. It’s in everyone’s interests for him to be lean, mean and a bit more flexible once spring training starts.

To that end, according to a recent report, Schwarber “has been on a mission this offseason to transform his body.” And now Maddon is playing up the BSOHL angle. Whether that’s salesmanship or not, all eyes are going to be on Schwarber come February.