Toronto Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin is willing to move out from behind home plate and play anywhere if it makes the team better.
The versatile Russell Martin has struggled offensively again this season while backup catcher Luke Maile has come into his own knocking in more runs than Martin in limited opportunities at the plate. Maile is slashing .315/.405/.493 in 84 plate appearances while the aging Martin is hitting an uninspiring .152/.288/.333 line in 125 plate appearances.
Martin recently discussed his willingness to explore other positions on the infield if management feels that will give the squad a better chance to win. The 35-year old has seen action at third base (4 games) and shortstop (1 game) this season already.
"“Whatever management thinks makes the team better, gives us a better chance to win. You know, the goal for me on any team I’ve played on is what’s best for the squad. And I’ve always been a fan of the infield,”"
Martin has another year remaining after this season on his 5 year/ $82 million dollar contract that will see him earn $20 million next season. Even aside from Maile, the Blue Jays have a cast of catching prospects knocking on the door in the farm.
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The likes of Danny Jansen, Reese McGuire, Max Pentecost are close to being major league ready while there is even a younger crop like Riley Adams and Hagen Danner still honing their craft in the lower levels.
Martin is a consummate professional and surely realizes that Father Time is catching up with him however you have to respect his willingness to do what is best for the team. Surprisingly, Martin has looked right at home playing at the hot corner this season in the small sample size we have seen.
Manager John Gibbons reiterated that he believes Martin will be the main guy as long as he is here although he does not mind moving him around the field.
"As long as he’s here, I have to believe he will be my main guy but I have no problem putting him anywhere else, I think he’d be able to handle it. And I know he likes it. You tell him that you want him to play in the infield, and his eyes just light up. He’s a better athlete than most catchers out there. His reactions are good, he has great hands … and he gets the (crap) beat out of him back there.”"
Undoubtedly Gibbons sees the value in Martin behind the plate and what he brings to the table that doesn’t necessarily show up in the morning box score.
In saying that the Jays need to shake things up after their recent skid that has seen them fall below .500 once again. The entire starting staff, Josh Donaldson, Kendrys Morales and Martin have all underperformed thus far on the season.
If the Jays fortunes are going to change they will need a complete effort from all parties mentioned to right the ship and start trending upward before it is too late.