Bob Feller: 1918-2010

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Sad news out of Iowa tonight.

Keith Murphy of WHO in Des Moines passes along word that Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller has died at the age of 92 in a Cleveland hospice.

Feller was hospitalized with pneumonia a few weeks ago and previously fought a battle against leukemia.

Born November 3, 1918 in the small farming town of Van Meter, Iowa, he went on to win 266 games over 18 big league seasons — all with the Indians.   He retired after 1956 with a sparkling 3.25 career ERA and 2,581 strikeouts.

Feller struck out 348 batters and turned in a 2.18 ERA over 371.1 innings in 1946, his finest season.

But it was in 1941 that he made his biggest splash.

After Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, Feller became the first Major League Baseball player to enlist in the armed forces, joining the NAVY and serving as a gun captain on the USS Alabama during what might have been the prime of his baseball career.  He served four years and was decorated with five campaign ribbons and eight stars throughout his military service.

Feller was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.

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.