Joel Zumaya cleared to begin throwing program

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Tom Gage of the Detroit News brings us some good news about Tigers setup man Joel Zumaya.

Dr. James Andrews took a look at Zumaya’s ailing right elbow on Wednesday afternoon and found nothing structurally out of place, so the Tigers cleared him to begin a throwing program.

Zumaya will start with games of catch, then he’ll move on to bullpen sessions. He’ll finish up with a simulated game and a minor league rehab appearance or two. It’s a rehab schedule that should take around two weeks to complete.

“The scan showed good range of motion, good strength, and Joel has been allowed to begin a light-toss program,” Tigers trainer Kevin Rand said Thursday. “He’ll throw at 60 feet for the next 5-6 days, then report back to Dr. Andrews about how he feels. We’ll just have to see how it goes in the next week.”

The Tigers were hoping — and still are hoping — to use Zumaya as a seventh inning mainstay this season behind eighth inning setup man Ryan Perry and ninth inning closer Jose Valverde.

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.