Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees

Team Canada will be without one previously committed established Major Leaguer as Russell Martin has chosen to withdraw from the tournament. Martin’s decision to remove himself from the World Baseball Classic is reportedly due to the Pittsburgh Pirates resistance to him playing shortstop. Martin, a catcher by trade, agreed to a two-year deal with the Pirates in November.

Martin, via Tom Singer of MLB.com:

“They both were uneasy about that,” Martin said, “and I simply didn’t want to catch. It’s just too much grind. The catcher’s out there the whole game, and it just takes your body so long to recover from catching 20 innings or so.”

“I feel sorry for (Team Canada), but sometimes you just have to look out for what’s best for you. You have to make a personal choice. But I’m really sorry for how all this went down.”

Tough break for Team Canada, but it’s not surprising to learn that the Pirates were not thrilled about their new catcher undertaking shortstop duties. Team Canada’s first World Baseball Classic game is March 5 versus Italia.