Juan Cruz is back in business.
According to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times, the Rays have inked the 32-year-old reliever to a minor league contract.
Cruz made it through only five appearances with the Royals last season before his shoulder gave out and he was forced to undergo season-ending surgery. He’s all healed now, but he may have to do some proving in the minor leagues before the Rays trust him in the big league bullpen.
Cruz, a righty, posted a rough 5.72 ERA and 1.49 WHIP over 46 appearances in 2009, his last full season. He did have some success as a setup man in the Diamondbacks’ bullpen from 2006-2008. There might be something left.
MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosh reports that the Cardinals are shutting down pitcher Carlos Martínez from throwing for two weeks because his shoulder strength isn’t where it should have been at this point. Langosch added that an MRI showed no structural damage in Martínez’s right shoulder.
Interestingly, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak didn’t sound too happy with Martínez offseason training regimen. Per Mark Saxon of The Athletic, Mozeliak said, “Obviously, there’s a history with Carlos’ shoulder and it would be probably in everybody’s best interest if he maintained a constant or perpetual approach to that program.”
Martínez, 27, battled oblique and shoulder injuries last year. He accrued just 118 2/3 innings, making just 18 starts. He was moved to the bullpen when he returned from the disabled list in August and finished out the season in that role. Still, Martínez managed a 3.11 ERA with 117 strikeouts and 60 walks.
Langosch reported last week that the Cardinals were considering using Martínez in relief again in 2019. The latest news may push the Cardinals to indeed use Martínez out of the bullpen once again. He will be reevaluated in early March, but there is a chance he won’t be ready for Opening Day.