Mike Matheny on Michael Wacha’s bullpen session: “I was expecting less”

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Michael Wacha took a big step in his recovery Monday, mixing fastballs and changeups in a 35-pitch bullpen session, and afterward manager Mike Matheny seemed very encouraged when talking to Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post Dispatch:

I was expecting less. We’re being aggressive, a little more intensity. It looked really close to what we normally would see when he’s out there. It just looked real effortless when the ball was coming out of his hand. He wasn’t trying to hump up and do anything extraordinary. It looked good.

Wacha is two months into his recovery from a stress reaction in his shoulder and Hummel reports that he’ll likely have at least a couple more bullpen sessions before potentially seeing any game action.

So far so good, though.

Wacha, who last started a game for the Cardinals on June 17, had a 2.79 ERA and 83/26 K/BB ratio in 90 innings before the injury to basically duplicate his standout performance as a rookie last season.

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.