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Five Unassisted: Nathan needs MRI; Martin out 4 to 6 weeks

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That's right, America's favorite daily sweep of MLB links has returned for another season. You're welcome. Feel free to offer the usual unrestrained praise in the comments section...

Twins closer Joe Nathan(notes) has returned to Minnesota for "an MRI exam and CAT scan on his surgically repaired right elbow," so that's no minor concern. Here's Nathan himself via the Star-Tribune:

"It's at a spot right now where I definitely wouldn't want to pick up a baseball," Nathan said Sunday morning. "It's very stiff, very sore."

If he can't pick it up, he can't throw it. And if he can't throw it, then Jon Rauch(notes) or Matt Guerrier(notes) may enter the discussion.

Russell Martin's(notes) strained abductor muscle is expected to cost him four to six weeks, per the LA Times. The Dodgers have no immediate plans to dig up a replacement; they're rolling with AJ Ellis(notes). He's a powerless backstop who's about to turn 29. Ellis has delivered nice averages at Triple-A over the past two seasons, but he failed to homer in 360 plate appearances in the PCL last year.

Cameron Maybin(notes), the Marlins' presumptive Opening Day centerfielder, strained his groin while running the bases on Sunday. According to the Miami Herald, he "felt his groin 'pull as opposed to pop' shortly after stepping on third base." He's calling the injury a "day-to-day thing," so there's reason to be hopeful. Maybin, 23, is a classic post-hype sleeper heading into this season.

The Rays are reportedly in "serious talks" with Hank Blalock(notes), according to Heyman (via DRaysBay). As if a conversation with Hank could be anything other than deadly serious. He posted a Kingmanly line last year (25 HR, 26 BB, 108 Ks, .234 AVG), though his BABIP dipped to an exceptionally low .249.

You're encouraged to check out Joe Posnanski's recent review of batters and pitch-type, assisted by Fangraphs (and thus by Baseball Info Solutions). It's full of interesting nuggets. Cubs fans will note that Alfonso Soriano(notes) had the second-lowest percentage of fastballs faced, and that he saw more curves and sliders than just about anyone. Last year's rate of fastballs-faced was a career low for Soriano. Because pitchers are heartless.


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