Hanley Ramirez could bat leadoff when he returns from the disabled list

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Hanley Ramirez began a minor league rehab assignment tonight with High-A Jupiter and could be back as soon as Tuesday against the Phillies. However, the more interesting news is where he might find himself in the lineup upon his return.

According to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez is considering using him out of the leadoff spot again.

“Let’s see where he is at,” Rodriguez said. “I haven’t decided that yet. It could be first or it could be second.”

Asked directly if Rodriguez is thinking of batting Ramirez leadoff, the manager said: “Yes. Maybe not at first because we don’t know how his leg is going to hold up or his back.”

Ramirez was placed on the disabled list on May 30 with a strained left lower back, but has also dealt with pain in his upper left leg for most of the season. It would be unfair to count on him as a run producer right away, as he was batting just .210/.306/.309 with four home runs and 17 RBI before prior on the disabled list, but we probably can’t expect him to be the same dynamic leadoff hitter he used to be, either.

To be fair, Marlins’ leadoff hitters have combined to bat just .242/.311/.377 entering tonight’s action, so it wouldn’t take much for him to be an immediate upgrade.

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.