The headline of this article pretty much sums it up: Russell Martin is indeed starting at third base tonight for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle had said a few days ago that Martin would be getting some time at third base soon, and that he might even get a couple starts. He wasn’t kidding.
The Pirates are going up against the Atlanta Braves‘ Paul Maholm tonight. Maholm is a left-handed pitcher, so Hurdle has decided to sit Pedro Alvarez against him. Instead of playing someone with more infield experience at third like John McDonald, Hurdle has decided to put his $17MM catcher at the hot corner.
I understand sitting Alvarez against Maholm. In fact, I even requested for this to happen in a piece I wrote two weeks ago. One thing I didn’t expect was Martin to be playing instead of him, however. Let’s not ignore that Martin does have some experience at third base in his MLB career. He has started eight games at third and appeared in 16 games at the hot corner. Has he done a good job defensively at third base? No.
In just 79.1 innings at third base, Martin has had 29 chances to make a putout or an assist. In those 29 chances, Martin has committed four errors.
Martin’s bat has been heating up during the past couple games, I’m assuming that’s the only thing keeping him in the lineup today, with Michael McKenry getting the start behind the plate for the Pirates. For the record, I like Russell Martin a lot as a catcher, and I think his offense will be a lot better than anything the Pirates got in 2012 from their catchers, but I don’t think he needs to be in the lineup unless he is playing behind the plate. I hope tonight isn’t a disaster for him, but I fear he will have some issues there.