ESPN running down the All-Star Game again

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ESPN is just fine with a three-hour Home Run Derby.  After all, it gets to televise the proceedings.  But the All-Star Game itself?  Well, that’s FOX’s baby and that makes it fair game for the worldwide leader.

Jerry Crasnick’s piece on all of the stars skipping the game is currently leading the big features box on ESPN.com, with Crasnick spewing lines like the following: “big names bailing by the hour for Bahamas vacations, family cookouts or orthopedic consultations.”  This comes two days after Buster Olney proposed the solution that players should decide in spring training whether to opt off the All-Star ballot.

It’s a shame, because Crasnick is better than this.  There were three healthy players across both leagues who had the chance to go to the All-Star Game and pulled out: Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Aramis Ramirez.  Rivera missed time last week with a strained triceps, and while he was back pitching over the weekend, it’s hard to blame him for wanting to save his bullets.  Ramirez would have been a last-minute injury replacement, but he had already made plans for the break and decided to follow through on them.

So, really, as usual, this all boils down to Jeter.

And doesn’t Jeter deserve a free pass just this once?  This is the first time in 12 All-Star selections that he’s skipped the game.  Between all of the postseason appearances, the All-Star appearances and off-the-field obligations, Jeter has had less time off between the months of February and October than any player in baseball these last 15 years.  Let him have his little break.

Anyway…

Midsummer Mirage? All-Stars deserted this year’s Classic in droves? All-Star Game feeling snubbed?  All-Star Game getting the cold shoulder?  Players backing out of Midsummer Classic threatens showcase event for baseball?

It’s all just propaganda because ESPN would rather you watch it than FOX tonight.

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.