Victor Martinez goes on the disabled list with more knee problems

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Victor Martinez returned from February knee surgery in time for Opening Day and has played 34 of 39 games for the Tigers, but he’s clearly looked less than full strength and now he’s “likely” headed to the disabled list according to Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press.

Last season Martinez hit .335 with 32 homers and a .974 OPS, striking out just 42 times in 641 plate appearances on the way to finishing runner-up in the MVP voting. This season Martinez has hit .216 with one homer and a .578 OPS, striking out 13 times in 130 plate appearances. That includes a rare three-strikeout game last week as part of Martinez’s current 0-for-13 stretch.

Certainly plenty of 36-year-olds simply decline, so it’s possible age has played a part in Martinez’s plummeting production, but just from watching his at-bats it seems clear that he’s having trouble putting weight on his surgically repaired knee. Detroit re-signed Martinez to a four-year, $68 million contract this offseason, so they’re betting big on him avoiding an age-related decline and have lots of motivation to take a long-term approach to his health by shutting him down for a while.

Phillies sign Drew Storen and Bud Norris to minor league deals

Drew Storen
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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reported this afternoon that the Phillies signed veteran reliever Drew Storen to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. If Storen makes the major league roster, he will earn a $750,000 salary.

Storen, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2017 with the Reds. That year, he posted a 4.45 ERA with 48 strikeouts and 23 walks over 54 2/3 innings. Storen then underwent Tommy John surgery, which cost him the entire 2018 campaign. He inked a minor league deal with the Royals last year but struggled in nine appearances with Double-A Northwest Arkansas, resulting in his being released in June.

Robert Murray reports that the Phillies have also signed pitcher Bud Norris to a minor league contract. The right-hander, who turns 35 years old in March, missed the 2019 season due to a forearm injury. Norris was last seen in the majors in 2018 with the Cardinals, compiling a 3.59 ERA with 67 strikeouts and 21 walks over 57 2/3 innings of relief.

The Phillies had major bullpen problems last year and haven’t otherwise made any new additions so far this offseason. They’re hoping Storen and Norris have a little bit left in the tank.