Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Russell Martin was originally drafted in 2002 by the Los Angeles Dodgers as a second baseman, and will try to reclaim his youth and return to the infield, as he will attempt to play shortstop for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic.
“I’m doing it. It’s a position I really want to play,” Martin said on Tuesday. “I was signed as a catcher (by the Pirates), so it isn’t going to happen here. But it’s a position I’ve always wanted to play, and this gives me a chance.”
Martin has never played shortstop at the MLB level, but he did play one game at short in the Dodgers minor league system in 2002. Martin had five fielding chances and made one error, hardly a big enough sample size to make any real judgment.
In his seven MLB seasons with the Dodgers and the New York Yankees, Martin has played 16 games in the infield, 15 of those at third base, and a two inning appearance at second base with the Yankees in 2011.
Martin will try to prove his doubters wrong when Canada faces Team Italy on March 8. “I like to prove people wrong…. 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.”
Chris Robinson, a veteran in the Baltimore Orioles minor league system, is the only other catcher on roster for Team Canada, which will be managed by former Toronto Blue Jays catcher Ernie Whitt. Many will question Whitt for making this move, especially when he has proven Major League infielders like Brett Lawrie, Taylor Green and Pete Orr.
I admire Whitt for making a bold move in an attempt to get some attention for Team Canada, who will likely be overshadowed by Team USA and Team Mexico in Pool D of World Baseball Classic.