Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton paces all major leaguers in home runs and even slugged four in one game earlier this season. But he wants merely to be an observer July 9 in Kansas City, when American League captain Robinson Cano leads a group of three mashers against National League captain Matt Kemp and his own team of distance swingers.
Which, for obvious reasons, is something that Rangers manager Ron Washington fully supports.
“I didn’t help him with the decision,” Washington told columnist Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News on Wednesday evening. “But when he told me I was very, very happy he’s not doing it. He has so much torque in his swing. If he swings and misses, he could get hurt. And if he’s hurt, we’re hurt.”
Hamilton had to be given IV fluids and oxygen after a game in late May because of dehydration brought on by a combination of high-90s temperatures in Arlington, Texas and a respiratory infection. He also had back problems earlier this year, and appeared in only 121 games in 2011. The Home Run Derby is an awfully taxing event. And there’s even a belief that it can have a negative effect on a hitter’s swing.
Hamilton tallied 32 home runs during the 2008 regular season, but just 11 of those came after he put on a show in the final Derby at the old Yankee Stadium. The 31-year-old impending free agent hasn’t participated in an exhibition hitting competition since that memorable night.
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.