Angels demote Hank Conger to Triple-A

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Needing to clear a roster spot with fifth starter Tyler Chatwood returning from the minors, the Angels sent down rookie catcher Hank Conger prior to Tuesday’s game.

Conger was the better half of the Angels’ catching duo, hitting .214/.297/.357 in 154 at-bats.  Jeff Mathis, who gets to stick around, has hit .194/.243/.281 in 160 at-bats.

Mike Scioscia can and probably will argue that the Angels are a superior team when Mathis is catching, and he has the numbers on his side: the Angels are 28-19 with Mathis behind the plate, compared to 21-21 with Conger.

Of course, Scioscia has stacked the deck in a big way there.  Mathis has caught Jered Weaver and Dan Haren 29 times, compared to 11 times for Conger.  Conger has gotten the rest of the rotation 31 times, compared to 18 times for Mathis.

Also sticking around is seldom-used Bobby Wilson, who has spent the last year and a half wasting away on the Angels bench because he’s out of options and the team doesn’t want to lose him for nothing.  Wilson, who hopefully will claim a large share of Conger’s playing time, has just 34 at-bats this season, hitting .235/.308/.324/

Report: Red Sox, J.D. Martinez close to a deal

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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.