Yankees release Russell Branyan

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According to Donnie Collins of the Scranton Times-Tribune, the Yankees have released Russell Branyan.

Don’t feel bad if you forgot Branyan was with the Yankees. I know I did. The veteran slugger hooked on with the Bombers on a minor league deal over the winter, but was limited to just 33 games with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season due to, you guessed it, back problems. The 36-year-old was productive when in the lineup, hitting .309/.348/.645 with 11 home runs, 39 RBI and a 1.093 OPS in 33 games, but didn’t play another game after July 6.

The free-swinging Branyan owns a lowly .236 batting average over 14 major league seasons, but he has also amassed 194 home runs and an .814 OPS. However, given his age and constant back issues, we have probably seen the last of him in the big leagues.

Cardinals shut down Carlos Martínez for two weeks due to shoulder issue

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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.