David Ortiz cleared to pinch-hit, return to lineup Wednesday

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Jacoby Ellsbury was back in the lineup tonight after missing three games with a bruised back and it appears David Ortiz isn’t far behind him.

According to Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald, Ortiz tested his right heel before tonight’s game against the Rangers by running some sprints in the outfield. He’ll still have to be cleared by the Red Sox medical staff, but indicated that he may be ready to return to the starting lineup as soon as Wednesday.

“I could be in the lineup right now. I can’t watch this (expletive) no more,” Ortiz said with a smile. “But I’ve got to wait to see what the doctor says because it’s something that, if you don’t do things exactly the way they say, it can catch up with you later on. I don’t want to be stupid.”

Ortiz didn’t even discount the possibility that he could be available to pinch-hit tonight, though that would probably be pushing things a bit.

Ortiz, 35, is batting .300/.388/.557 with 24 homers, 79 RBI and a .945 OPS over 464 plate appearances this season. Rookie Ryan Lavarnway has served as the primary designated hitter during his absence and entered play Tuesday batting .294 (5-for-17) with a double, two RBI and a 4/4 K/BB ratio.

UPDATE: Heidi Watney of NESN reports that Ortiz has received clearance from the doctor and is available to pinch-hit tonight and return to the lineup tomorrow.

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.