Two weeks after signing with the Indians on a minor-league contract Johnny Damon is expected to join the team for their series against the White Sox that begins tomorrow, according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Damon has been playing extended spring training games to get ready and has apparently looked good enough that they canceled plans to have him spend some time at Triple-A.
As part of his contract Damon can opt out on Tuesday if he’s not in the majors, but with Shelley Duncan in an extended slump and the Indians’ lineup failing to produce much of anything last week the 38-year-old veteran figures to see significant action in left field right away.
At this point in his career Damon is hardly an impact hitter, posting a .261 batting average with 16 homers and a modest .743 OPS in 150 games for the Rays last season, but if spotted mostly versus right-handed pitching he can still be useful and his contract is worth just $1.25 million in guaranteed money once he cracks the big-league roster. He can earn another $1.4 million in incentives.
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.