It would appear as though it’s not just Canadian baseball fans who are perplexed by Russell Martin’s decision to withdraw from the World Baseball Classic. At least one of Martin’s Canadian peers, Justin Morneau, is left scratching his head following the
wannabe shortstop’s catcher’s last minute departure from the roster.
Morneau, in speaking with members of the Canadian media, offered up his own disappointment at the news that Martin bowed out of the tournament due to his new club’s concerns over him playing shortstop.
Morneau on Martin, via Gregor Chisholm at MLB.com:
“It’s kind of hard for me to understand. Obviously, if you want to learn your pitching staff, new team, it’s important as a catcher to learn those guys and he signed [in Pittsburgh] for two years.
If that was the case, I think we’d all be fine with it. But the desire to play a new position is kind of what has everybody wondering what the decision-making process was behind that. When we get there, we’ll be there with everybody who wants to be there and with somebody who’s capable of playing shortstop.”
When asked about the odd timing of Martin’s decision, Morneau added:
“I don’t know what he was thinking. If he wanted to get down in camp and see how his body reacted to catching or whatever it was, obviously he was the No. 1 option for a reason, but the timing of it is a little difficult with trying to find someone to replace him.”
That’s some classic “I’m not angry, just disappointed” jockeying there from Morneau. Fair enough, in my humble opinion. Other than a handful of appearances at third base, mostly with the Dodgers in 2008, and a dance at second base, Martin has made most of his Major League starts at catcher. It’s not crazy for the Pirates to express some concern over their prized free agent acquisition (I literally cried typing that) playing out of position in March. Likewise, it’s entirely reasonable for Team Canada to expect him to play the position he’s played for his entire career.
Alas, the winner here is nobody. Well, except for the Pirates, who will have Martin in camp learning a new pitching staff.