Cardinals fear Adam Wainwright has “significant” elbow injury

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As if the early days of spring training haven’t been tough enough on the Cardinals, now Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that ace Adam Wainwright has returned to St. Louis to have his right elbow examined for a possible ligament injury.

Wainwright apparently felt pain while throwing batting practice Monday and general manager John Mozeliak told Goold that he believes “it’s a significant injury” and “things do not look encouraging” for the Cy Young runner-up.

Wainwright has been mostly injury free since experiencing elbow problems in 2004, but did miss the final start of last season due to elbow soreness. Before that he went 20-11 with a 2.42 ERA and 213 strikeouts in 230 innings and Wainwright is 66-35 with a 2.97 ERA in five seasons with the Cardinals after being acquired from the Braves as a prospect for J.D. Drew in December of 2003.

He’ll be examined by doctors today and then get a second opinion later this week, but at this point Tommy John surgery and a 12-18 month recovery timetable looms.

Report: Red Sox sign J.D. Martinez

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Update (5:16 PM ET): ESPN’s Pedro Gomez is reporting that the deal is final.

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Red Sox and outfielder J.D. Martinez are close to a deal. He takes care to note that the deal is not done yet and the details are not known yet.

Martinez, 30, entered the offseason as the top free agent hitter. Last season, between the Tigers and Diamondbacks, he hit a lusty .303/.376/.690 with 45 home runs and 104 RBI in 489 plate appearances. He missed the first 33 games of the season with a sprained right foot; one wonders what his numbers might’ve been like if he hadn’t been injured.

The Red Sox were the team most strongly linked to Martinez throughout the offseason, despite the relatively slow-moving market. Martinez said he wants to play in the outfield and the Red Sox are currently spoken for at all three positions with Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley, and Mookie Betts. Hanley Ramirez is also penciled in at DH. Should the Martinez deal become official, the Red Sox may try to trade Bradley and move Benintendi to center field. If Martinez is willing to concede his outfield wishes, the Red Sox could slot him in at DH and move Ramirez to first base.

The AL East is shaping up to be a familiar two-horse race between the Red Sox and Yankees. The addition of Martinez, in a way, answers the Yankees’ addition of Giancarlo Stanton.