ESPN Dallas’ Richard Durrett dies suddenly at age 38

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This is horrible news. Richard Durrett, an ESPNDallas.com writer who covered the Rangers for the past several years — and who served as a Dallas Morning News reporter several years before that — died yesterday. He was only 38-years-old. While it hasn’t been officially announced, many people are saying he was killed by a brain aneurysm.

ESPN and the Rangers both issued statements on his passing, which can be read here.

Durett was a truly nice guy in a line of work that doesn’t necessarily require or reward being a nice guy. I met him on a couple of occasions and he was the polar opposite of the sportswriter stereotype. He wasn’t grumpy or cynical. He was funny, but his humor was not the dark or gallows humor you often hear from those who inhabit press boxes. When I, as a clueless newbie, showed up in Surprise, Arizona for spring training a couple of years ago, Durrett was kind and accommodating and showed me around the place to help me get my bearings. That doesn’t happen too often. When you’re a tourist in the press box, you’re usually on your own.

In 2011, after Rangers fan Shannon Stone fell to his death at the ballpark while trying to reach a ball for his son, Durrett wrote this piece in response, thinking about fathers and sons. And, specifically, his own son who was three at the time and is only six now. Give it a read and remember what’s important in life.

Thirty-eight is far too young. Take some time for a nice thought or a prayer for his family who will now have to spend way too much time without him than any family should. And make sure you do whatever you can do to live your life in the present, making sure those who you love know that you love them. Life isn’t fair. Death is less fair than that. All we can do is make the most of it while we can.

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.