Marco Scutaro and Jed Lowrie to ‘split’ shortstop for Red Sox

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Jed Lowrie is set to return from the disabled list after missing six weeks with a shoulder injury, so manager Terry Francona explained that Marco Scutaro no longer has a lock on the everyday shortstop job.

“Now that we will have Jed back, we can kind of split it up,” Francona told Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. “Because Jed’s not ready to be out there every day, we can look at day game/night game, matchups and hopefully get the most out of both of them.”

Prior to the injury Lowrie had moved past Scutaro on the depth chart, but Scutaro has started 41 of 45 games there since Lowrie went down.

However, prior to last night’s four-hit effort against the Yankees Scutaro batted just .250 with a .668 OPS during that time and Francona made it pretty clear that he’s willing play whichever shortstop emerges with the hottest bat down the stretch. If healthy, Lowrie should have the upper hand. But that’s a pretty huge if and Scutaro’s big night might buy him a little time initially.

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.