Victor Martinez “really happy” with first game action since knee surgery

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Victor Martinez saw his first game action today since knee surgery ended his 2012 season before it even began and felt pretty good despite going 0-for-2 against the Braves.

Martinez, who will stick to designated hitter this year and not see any time behind the plate for the Tigers, told Chris Iott of MLive.com:

I’m going to go home really happy. I thought I made good contact. I saw the ball good. It felt good … Honestly, I’m not really thinking about the knee. I’m just letting the fans know, I’m not thinking about it. I come to spring training now like I used to be: just getting ready to get to the season.

Last season Tigers designated hitters combined for a .257 batting average and .687. Martinez hit .330 with an .850 OPS in 2011 and has never posted an OPS below .800 in a full season.

Rays sign lefty Ryan Merritt to a minor league deal

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The Tampa Bay Rays have signed lefty swingman Ryan Merritt to a minor league contract. Nah, it’s not a big signing but we’ll take anything today.

Merritt, who has spent his entire career in the Indians organization, spent the entire 2018 season at Triple-A Columbus. It wasn’t a bad year for him — he posted a 3.79 ERA and a 52/2 K/BB ratio in 13 starts and two relief appearances covering 71.1 innings — but the Tribe just couldn’t find a role for him at the big league level. He has shown in the past, however, that he can hack it in the bigs, having posted a 1.71 ERA in 31.2 innings with the Indians between 2016-2017.

His thing is that he simply doesn’t strike guys out at anything approaching a typical clip for a big leaguer: 3.7 per nine innings in his small sample of major league outings and 6.3 Ks per nine innings in the minors. Which, while it may not prevent him from having success at the big league level, is likely a reason for the limited number of chances he’s been given.

The Rays are probably the best place he could go, frankly. They’ve shown themselves willing to utilize guys in unique ways and are more likely than most teams to find places to spot a lefty control specialist who has shown he can both start and come out of the pen.