Charting the rise of Tommy John surgeries

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Still reeling from the news about Jose Fernandez. I know a lot of pitchers get Tommy John surgery, but this thing in which an exciting young pitcher bursts on the scene and wows all of baseball for a while and then goes down just when we’re really starting to enjoy it all is really getting old. Stephen Strasburg, Matt Harvey, Fernandez. There were others. There will be more.

Many more if this chart from Bill Petti — put together using data from Jon Roegele — is any suggestion. It shows the steep rise in Tommy John surgeries over the years. Sure, some of it is probably a function of doctors and teams being more willing to pull the trigger and have the surgery done where, a few years ago, the pitcher’s elbow may have been rehabbed instead. But the mainstreaming of TJ surgery is not the only factor. Guys are throwing harder, throwing longer when they’re kids and they’re paying the price for it in elbow ligaments.

Based on what James Andrews had to say about it last month, there isn’t a whole heck of a lot Major League Baseball can do about this, as the damage being done to pitchers’ elbows is largely being done before they ever sign their first pro contract.

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.