Astros players upset over Mark Appel’s promotion to Double-A, bullpen session in Houston

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Mark Appel, the first overall pick in the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft, was promoted to Double-A Corpus Christi on Saturday despite posting a 9.74 ERA and 1.92 WHIP in 44 1/3 innings at High-A Lancaster. And he was invited to Minute Maid Park in Houston on Sunday morning to throw a bullpen session in front of Astros coaches and executives. This stuff is not sitting well with some of the players on the Astros’ current major league roster. Here’s reporter Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle

It’s pretty common for top prospects to be moved aggressively through the minors and to have workouts in front of members of the major league coaching staff, so this anger seems odd. Perhaps it’s the culmination of a growing divide between the Houston front office and some of the Astros’ players — the shady handling of George Springer’s callup and the bungling of the Brady Aiken negotiations only adding fuel to the fire.

“I will handle those conversations internally,” Astros manager Bo Porter told Ortiz on Sunday afternoon. “Any time something affects your clubhouse, I think as the manager you have to handle it.”

Report: Red Sox, J.D. Martinez close to a deal

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Red Sox and outfielder J.D. Martinez are close to a deal. He takes care to note that the deal is not done yet and the details are not known yet.

Martinez, 30, entered the offseason as the top free agent hitter. Last season, between the Tigers and Diamondbacks, he hit a lusty .303/.376/.690 with 45 home runs and 104 RBI in 489 plate appearances. He missed the first 33 games of the season with a sprained right foot; one wonders what his numbers might’ve been like if he hadn’t been injured.

The Red Sox were the team most strongly linked to Martinez throughout the offseason, despite the relatively slow-moving market. Martinez said he wants to play in the outfield and the Red Sox are currently spoken for at all three positions with Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley, and Mookie Betts. Hanley Ramirez is also penciled in at DH. Should the Martinez deal become official, the Red Sox may try to trade Bradley and move Benintendi to center field. If Martinez is willing to concede his outfield wishes, the Red Sox could slot him in at DH and move Ramirez to first base.

The AL East is shaping up to be a familiar two-horse race between the Red Sox and Yankees. The addition of Martinez, in a way, answers the Yankees’ addition of Giancarlo Stanton.