Lack of instant replay looms big in another no-hitter

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Just like in Johan Santana’s no-hitter exactly a week ago, a close play that could have been overturned by replay loomed large in Seattle’s combined no-hitter against the Dodgers on Friday night.

Dee Gordon, maybe the National League’s fastest player, led off the bottom of the ninth with a broken-bat flare to shortstop against Tom Wilhelmsen. Brendan Ryan, just in the game as a defensive replacement, grabbed the ball and made a strong throw to first, getting the out call. Replay, however, showed that Gordon may have beaten the relay.

In this case, the evidence wasn’t so solid as last week’s fair-foul call on what should have been a Carlos Beltran double. The play at first base was so close there’s a good chance it wouldn’t have been overturned on whatever replay system baseball eventually implements. Still, it did look like Gordon was safe. Besides just disrupting the no-no, it was a huge call in what was just a 1-0 game at the time. It’s one of those calls MLB will someday need to make its best effort to get right, instead of just letting one man try to call it at real speed.

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.