Yu Darvish will not participate in the World Baseball Classic

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Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish announced through an official press release on Tuesday evening that he will not be pitching for Team Japan in next spring’s 2013 World Baseball Classic:

After much deliberation, which has included a lot of consultation with my coaches and trainers, I have decided that I will not play in the upcoming World Baseball Classic. This was a very difficult decision for me as it is always a tremendous honor to represent my native country of Japan. I greatly enjoyed being a part of the 2009 Championship ballclub and I will be supporting this year’s team as they look to defend their title.

Darvish threw 191 1/3 innings during the 2012 regular season and went another 6 2/3 frames in the Rangers’ AL Wild Card Game loss to the Orioles.

So he can use whatever additional rest he can find heading into his second full major league campaign.

“My ultimate goal is to help win a World Series with the Texas Rangers and to share that accomplishment with the great baseball fans in Japan,” the 26-year-old native of Osaka concluded in his statement.

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.