Charlie Lea: 1956-2011

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Some sad news to pass along out of Tennessee.

According to the Associated Press, Charlie Lea passed away yesterday at the age of 54. Collierville police chief Larry Goodwin told the Commercial Appeal that he died of a suspected heart attack.

Lea pitched seven seasons in the big leagues, six of them with the Expos, and finished his career with the Twins in 1988. The French-born right-hander went 62-48 with a 3.54 ERA in 152 career games.

Lea is probably best known for throwing a no-hitter against the Giants in the second game of a double-header on May 10, 1981. But he was actually one of the better starting pitchers in the National League for a brief stretch before shoulder problems derailed his career, even starting and winning the All-Star Game in the 1984.

Lea was still involved in baseball in recent years, doing radio play-by-play for the local Triple-A Memphis Redbirds. May he rest in peace.

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.