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Anibal Sanchez exits start early after taking a line drive off of his left leg

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Anibal Sanchez lasted just five pitches in Tuesday night’s start — his first start since August 16 — when he took a Whit Merrifield line drive off of his shin to lead off the first inning. Sanchez left with a trainer and was relieved by Myles Jaye. Jaye eventually allowed Merrifield to score, with the run being charged to Sanchez.

Sanchez, 33, had been on the 10-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring. He entered Tuesday’s action carrying an ugly 6.95 ERA and a 68/21 K/BB ratio over 77 2/3 innings this season.

The Tigers should have more details on Sanchez’s condition later. With only a few weeks remaining in the season, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Tigers shut Sanchez down. The club has a $16 million club option with a $5 million buyout on Sanchez for the 2018 season.

Update: The Tigers say Sanchez has a left calf contusion, per MLB.com’s Jason Beck. X-rays came back negative.

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.