The Rays pounded out 19 hits on Thursday, scoring 15 runs in a rout of the Twins. Six of those hits went for extra bases, including homers from Casey Kotchman and Ben Zobrist.
Uninvited to the party, though, was Reid Brignac. He managed just a single in five at-bats. The Rays’ starting shortstop has now had 57 at-bats this season and hasn’t managed a double, a triple or a homer in any of them.
That’s quite a change for Brignac, who was annointed the Rays’ starting shortstop after Jason Bartlett was traded to the Padres. He earned the job by collecting eight homers and 13 doubles in 301 at-bats last year. He drove in 45 runs. At that pace over a full season of 550 at-bats, he would have finished with 15 homers and 82 RBI. In his major league career, he had managed an extra-base hit every 12 at-bats.
But to start 2011, Brignac has gone four weeks without one and he’s lost some playing time as a result. It’s enough to make one wonder whether the Rays might send him down when Evan Longoria comes off the DL next week. They’d lose something defensively by going that route, but they do have three shortstop alternatives on the roster in Felipe Lopez, Sean Rodriguez and Elliot Johnson.
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.