In 2009 catcher Russell Martin, then with the Los Angeles Dodgers, played for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic and all was good. It is now 2013 and the new backstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates should put aside his WBC dreams and focus on learning a new pitching staff.
There are several reasons Martin should stay in Bradenton with his teammates and not play for his country. First of all he has played before so he is not being completely robbed of the experience. Second he is on a new team and he and his pitching staff need to spend as much time together as possible to learn what one another likes to do in certain situations.
Finally, and most importantly. he is playing shortstop for Canada. You read that right. Martin is playing shortstop, not catcher, in the WBC. This sounds like a great way for a player to get hurt. Shortstop may be less dangerous than catcher, but only if you have a clue what you are doing out there. Does Martin really have the ability and the agility to avoid an overzealous player trying to break up a double play? With the Pirates’ luck Martin will tear up a knee and be done for the season.
Someone from Pirates management should have sat Martin down and politely asked him not to participate in the WBC. They just agreed to pay him $17 million over the next two seasons so they should have some sway. Management needed to not only protect their investment, but do everything in their power to help end the franchise’s 20 year losing streak. Having Martin in camp with his pitchers is the best way to help ensure that happens.