Blue Jays need to get Russell Martin right


Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin was in noticeable pain throughout their Wednesday night loss to the Philadelphia Phillies, and despite his insistence that the nagging injury should not impact his offensive games, Martin’s recent performance suggests otherwise.

According to Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi, Martin admitted that his left leg is “sore”, the same leg that caused him to miss a month with a hamstring injury in 2014 as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Martin could be seen wincing during his at-bats, and when it came time to burst down the first base line, the veteran catcher didn’t have a chance. Still, he does not intend on missing time.

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“Doing the best I can,” Martin told Davidi following his 1-for-4 night. “It doesn’t feel great but it doesn’t really affect me behind the plate, I can still receive and throw to the bases and do certain things. The running part is a part of my game, it’s not necessarily a strength of mine, it’s sore, but it’s not career threatening or anything like that, so it’s not an excuse.”

Manager John Gibbons backed Martin following the game. “I think he’s fine, he’s not complaining about it. He hasn’t complained once.” Martin has earned the benefit of the doubt with his performance through 2015 and the respect he holds around the league, but at a certain point, is this hurting the ball club?

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Martin’s numbers in August have been ugly, owning a triple-slash of .111 / .184 / .111 through 49 plate appearances. He’s struck out ten times over that span, and outside of a hard-luck line drive to right field last night, the power contact hasn’t been there. All players have their aches at this point in the season, Martin owns more than most players in this league, but a few days of rest would not derail this playoff run.

We saw a similar situation with Devon Travis earlier in the season when he worked to fight through his shoulder injury and remain on the field. That determination gained him the respect of Blue Jays fans, but when the results continued to taper off, it was decided that the organization needed to get him right.

With an off day Thursday, perhaps the Blue Jays could give the start to Dioner Navarro on Friday with David Price on the mound. The two worked together in Tampa Bay, so it would not be a jarring change for the Jays ace. With Marco Estrada already expected to match up with Navarro on Saturday, this would throw Martin back into the mix for the afternoon start on Sunday before another off day on Monday. There are options.

The Blue Jays are not just hoping to have Martin healthy through September, but through October. Dioner Navarro is capable of putting up the same numbers as a battered Martin over a handful of games. This isn’t a call for anything drastic, but if Navarro has clung to this roster all year long, there’s no better time for him to show his value.

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