In the strongest sign yet that the Braves might finally be ready to bench Dan Uggla or perhaps even cut bait on the struggling second baseman, Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports that they’re calling up Triple-A second baseman Tommy La Stella.
La Stella is 25 years old and not regarded as a top prospect, but he’s consistently posted excellent on-base percentages in the minors and as a low-strikeout, low-power hitter he’s basically the opposite of Uggla’s skill set.
This season La Stella has a .293 batting average and .384 on-base percentage in 47 games at Triple-A, with more walks (25) than strikeouts (14). He’s slugging just .359, but La Stella isn’t totally without power and has a .474 career slugging percentage with an average of 10 homers per 150 games.
Uggla, meanwhile, is hitting just .177 with two homers and a .511 OPS in 34 games and dating all the way back to the beginning of 2012 he’s hit .198 with 374 strikeouts in 324 games. Uggla is still owed $13 million for next season as part of a five-year, $62 million deal, but he’s well past the point of giving the Braves any reason to think there’s a turnaround coming.
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.