The World Baseball Classic is coming up and Russell Martin is fired up to play for Team Canada. A while back we wrote that newly signed Buccos catcher said he will be ready to play, hold onto your shi.. here….shortstop.
And guess what? The 30-year old Martin is going to get his wish. It will probably be his position when he puts on the big maple leaf for Team Canada next month.
We heard about this before Martin signed with the Bucs, but we didn’t really read much into it.
So Martin says he will play short or whatever position Oh, Canada will need to win. You think he’s kidding?
"The recently signed Pittsburgh Pirate says added fielding grounders to his winter training program in case Canada manager Ernie Whitt opts to use him in the infield."
And then the bombshell….he has been taking grounders at Pirate City with his new infield glove.
"He’d even consider playing shortstop in the unlikely case that the Pirates ever ask him to switch positions."
“I don’t want to do something that’s not going to help the team, whether it’s Pittsburgh or Team Canada,” Martin told reporters on a conference call a while back. “I know I have the ability to play shortstop. I haven’t played there in a long time. I know the speed of the game is going to be higher than when I last played (in high school and college). But right now, if it means I can help the team by playing shortstop for Canada then I’ll do that.
All of this comes from the fact that Canada doesn’t have a major league shortstop. The catching position was supposed to be manned by George Kottaras of the Oakland A’s, but he won’t play and has been replaced by Chris Robinson.
Back when this first hit the press, Martin did the interview call from his vacation in Barcelona, so maybe he was having a good time. Somehow, we think he was serious. It’s pretty awesome to think a catcher would have this much confidence in their athletic ability, but….yeh, pretty awesome.
"“I like to prove people wrong,” Martin said. “I’m going to do what I feel like doing. I feel like playing shortstop. It’s a selfish move from my part. But it’s what I love to do. Sometimes you’ve got to do what you feel like doing for yourself. And I want to do it.“And if it goes well, then great. I expect it to go well, because I know I have the talent. I’m doing the work I need to do now to not embarrass myself and my country. Hopefully, people will be pleasantly surprised when they see how I play.”"
Team Canada will play exhibition games against the Brewers on March 5 and the Reds on March 6 before they play Jason Grilli’s Team Italy on March 8. Perhaps Martin will catch when Jameson Taillon takes the mound, but if you take a look at Team Canada’s roster, it doesn’t appear there is a seasoned veteran on the club with heavy major league shortstop experience–well, it’s not like Martin has the shortstop part either.
But we have to believe this experiment might be a short lived one, just call us crazy for thinking that.
So those dreams of moving Martin to short and promoting Tony Sanchez out of spring training? …yeh keep dreaming.