Russell Martin ahead of schedule, set for opener

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Russell Martin was initially expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a groin injury suffered early in spring training, but he’s far enough ahead of schedule that manager Joe Torre now expects the 27-year-old to be ready for Opening Day:

That’s what we’re expecting right now. Once we made the commitment to play him in the regular spring-training games, we pretty much made that choice, as opposed to starting him on the DL. I’m very comfortable. I think the only thing he’ll be a little behind on is getting his rhythm and timing. But hopefully he’ll get that done shortly.

Over the past three seasons Martin logged more innings behind the plate than any other catcher, leading baseball in innings caught in both 2007 and 2009 while ranking second to Jason Kendall in 2008.
In other words, his not rushing back from what was at first deemed a fairly significant injury could have turned into a positive thing in terms of keeping him healthy and fresh all season. For his career Martin has hit .287 with an .800 OPS in the first half compared to .263 with a .744 OPS in the second half, and August and September have been his two worst months.

Report: Guardians, 1B Josh Bell reach 2-year, $33M deal

Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports
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SAN DIEGO — The Cleveland Guardians and slugging first baseman Josh Bell have agreed to a two-year, $33 million contract, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal was pending a review of medical records.

Bell played for Washington and San Diego last season, batting .266 with 17 homers and 71 RBIs in 156 games.

Cleveland is coming off a surprising 2022 season, going 92-70 and winning the AL Central for the first time since 2018. The addition of Bell gives the Guardians more power for their lineup after they hit just 127 homers this year – the second-lowest total in the majors.

The 30-year-old Bell is a .262 hitter with 130 homers and 468 RBIs over seven seasons with three big league teams. He had his best year with Pittsburgh in 2019, making the NL All-Star team while batting .277 with 37 homers and 116 RBIs in 143 games.

The switch-hitting Bell also is expected to benefit from restrictions on defensive positioning coming to the game next year.