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Max Scherzer tweaked his hamstring

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Nationals’ ace Max Scherzer was pulled from his start on Saturday after sustaining a right hamstring cramp in the fourth inning. It sounds like there’s nothing to worry about just yet, even after the Nats had Scherzer undergo a precautionary MRI following the game. While the injury wasn’t expected to complicate the right-hander’s plans to start Game 1 of the NLDS on Thursday, he took a more cautious tone on Sunday.

It’s not the best news to hear as the Nationals prepare to enter the playoffs next week, but the prognosis could be much worse. The 33-year-old righty told reporters that he can still run without pain and was able to take the field for a game of catch prior to Sunday’s season finale against the Pirates. The club has yet to announce any potential replacements for Scherzer, should they choose to bump him to a Game 2 or Game 5 start against the Cubs.

Scherzer exited his final start this weekend with a 16-6 record in 31 starts, complemented by a stunning 6.0 fWAR, 2.51 ERA, 2.5 BB/9 and career-best 12.0 SO/9 over 200 2/3 innings in 2017.

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.