Jon Niese leaves start with left shoulder discomfort

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UPDATE II: Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that Niese will travel to New York to be examined by team doctors tomorrow.

UPDATE: According to Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal, the Mets announced that Niese exited with left shoulder discomfort.

8:44 PM: Jon Niese left tonight’s start against the Braves in the bottom of the fourth inning with an apparent injury. No word yet on the exact nature of the injury, but Niese winced after throwing a pitch and David Lennon of New York Newsday notes that he appeared to say “shoulder” when a team trainer came out to the mound. That’s just speculation for now, though.

It’s worth noting that Niese was skipped in the rotation late last month with left shoulder tendinitis. Coincidentally, Mets manager Terry Collins told Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal earlier today that it was no longer an issue.

Coming off a career-best 3.40 ERA last season, Niese has a 4.32 ERA and 49/33 K/BB ratio in 77 inning across 14 starts this season. The Mets were eventually going to have to bump somebody from the rotation to make room for Zack Wheeler, but an injury to Niese isn’t the ideal way to make that happen.

Niese, 26, signed a five-year, $29.5195 million extension with the Mets last April and is owed $5 million next season, $7 million in 2015, and $9 million in 2016. His contract also includes club options for 2017 and 2018.

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.