Johan Santana is struggling since his no-hitter

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Did the 134 pitches take a toll? After getting lit up by the Yankees last week, Johan Santana gave up four runs in five-plus innings Thursday versus the Rays in his second start since his no-hitter.

The 134 pitches Santana threw in shutting down the Cardinals were a career high for the left-hander, who was handled carefully during the first two months in his first season back from shoulder surgery. Pitching on six days’ rest last Friday, he gave up six runs and four homers in five innings in a loss to the Yankees. Today, working on five days’ rest, he got a win, but he allowed four runs in five-plus innings.

It actually should have been worse. Santana loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth, giving up a single to Hideki Matsui, a double to Ben Zobrist and a walk to Matt Joyce. Jon Rauch took over and managed to strand all three runners by getting two strikeouts and then a groundout.

Santana threw just 51 of his 95 pitches for strikes in this one. He issued four walks, his second highest total of the season (he walked five in the no-hitter).

Santana’s ERA has jumped from 2.38 to 3.23 since the no-no and would be higher if not for Rauch’s effort. The Mets have to be hoping its an aberration, not a trend. Santana and R.A. Dickey have been an outstanding one-two punch so far, but Santana needs to return to May form to keep that up.

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.