Stephen Strasburg on track to return Tuesday

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While we’re on the subject of “next big things,” Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider reports that Stephen Strasburg is scheduled to return from the disabled list next Tuesday against the Marlins.

Strasburg, who was placed on the disabled list last week with shoulder stiffness, threw a 25-pitch bullpen session Tuesday. He hurled fastballs, curveballs and changeups at full velocity and was “letting it go,” according to Nationals trainer Lee Kuntz.

He’ll still need to complete a simulated game Thursday and another bullpen session Saturday, but Nationals manager Jim Riggelman is very optimistic that he will be available Tuesday, as scheduled.

“It’s only tentative if he doesn’t respond 100 percent to the workload,”
Manager Jim Riggleman said. “We’re anticipating everything will go fine
and he can pitch Tuesday. But if there’s the slightest something to be
cautious about, we’ll back off from that.”

I follow statistics as much as any other baseball geek, but Zuckerman tweeted something pretty interesting in its sheer meaninglessness earlier this afternoon:

Craziest (and least meaningful) stat ever: With Strasburg on 25-man roster, Nats are 15-26. Without him, they’re 32-33.

Just your classic case of coincidental sucking, I’m sure.  

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.