The Indians announced today that non-roster invitee Michael Martinez suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon during his offseason workout (specifically, agility exercises), which required surgical repair and will sideline the veteran utilityman for the next six months. The 35-year-old Martinez was a long shot to make the big league roster out of Spring Training, but he’s found his way onto Cleveland’s Major League roster in each of the past three seasons, helping to fill in for various injuries. He’s batted .257/.289/.331 over the life of 145 plate appearances with Cleveland. That six-month timeline will put Martinez on track for an August return, so it’s still possible that he could at least return to the club’s Triple-A team late in the season.
Elsewhere in the AL Central…
- Minnesota’s interest in Alex Cobb has been “overstated,” reports MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger in his latest Twins Inbox column. (MLBTR recently explored the market for Cobb as part of our Free Agent Profile series.) Yu Darvish remains the Twins’ top priority, but they’re reluctant to go beyond a five-year deal in order to land any free agent. The Twins still have some interest in Chris Tillman as a possible rebound candidate, Bollinger adds. He also notes that chief baseball officer Derek Falvey wouldn’t rule out a reunion with Jaime Garcia, whom the Twins acquired from the Braves this summer, only to flip him to the Yankees roughly a week later.
- A reinvigorated Bubba Starling tells MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan that he believes he can compete for an outfield job with the Royals this spring. Starling, a former first-round pick and lauded top prospect, candidly tells Flanagan that he nearly walked away from baseball entirely in 2017 after getting off to a brutal start to the season, hitting .121/.205/.182 through his first 21 games (a slump that came on the heels of a .534 OPS the year prior). Starling struck out at a 30 percent clip through those 21 games, but he stuck with it at the urging of his family and soon made some mechanical alterations after a chat with hitting coach Tommy Gregg. The tweaks paid dividends, as Starling slashed .288/.335/.443 with just an 18.5 percent strikeout rate over his next 230 PAs before an oblique injury cut his season short in August.
- Shane Greene expects to be the Tigers’ closer in 2017, writes George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press. “I feel like I’m the closer and I’ve earned that job and it’s my job to lose,” said the 29-year-old Greene, who pitched to a 2.66 ERA with 9.7 K/9, 4.5 BB/9, 0.8 HR/9 and a 47.4 percent ground-ball rate in 67 2/3 innings for Detroit in 2017. New pitching coach Chris Bosio spoke positively of Greene’s stuff and makeup, and Sipple notes that the team’s decision to allow setup man Alex Wilson to compete for a starting job this spring only enhances Greene’s grip on the ninth inning. Speculatively, young Joe Jimenez will eventually be the biggest on-paper threat to Greene’s chances, but he was torched for a 12.32 ERA in 19 innings last year. Jimenez, though, turned 23 just two weeks ago and has a career 1.56 ERA with 13.0 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in the minors. He’ll need to prove himself in the Majors, though he could find himself in high-leverage situations sooner rather than later if he’s able to do so early in the year.