Hard to believe, but if Russell Martin keeps this pace through these final five games, his end-of-the-year slash line won’t be all that different from last year’s. In the month of September, Martin has hit .274/.369/.562, and he’s reached 20 homers for the first time in his career. He’s become middle-of-the-order run producer against lefties — something this team badly needs — and he’s shown value beyond what he does behind the plate.
“I feel fresh,” Martin said. “I don’t know how many games I’ve caught, but I feel like I felt in June. It’s definitely thanks to how Joe is managing the lineup and stuff. Early in my career, I wanted to be back there all the time. But now it seems like when I get rest, I feel like I’m helping the team more, so better to have me fresh out there than all beat up.”
Good all-around catchers are hard to find, but Martin does two things well at the plate: He hits homers and takes walks. If that’s enough offense to go with his defensive work, Martin just might turn this rough season into a return to the Yankees next year. For now, they need him to finish off this season and stay production into October.
“I never saw him really take his at-bats behind the plate. I never saw him visibly show anger and frustration. He seemed to handle the situation really well. He’s been kind of a bad luck guy too when you look at some of the balls he’s hit, and those are the ones that you tend to show the most frustration on when you hit a ball hard and you don’t get a hit, but he would just put his gear on and go back and catch and focus on what he needed to do back there. So I’ve been really impressed with how he’s handled it, and I think how he’s handled it has allowed him to hit better in the second half.”
“It’s crucial. I told him a while ago he had an avalanche of good stuff coming his way. Twenty jacks, a career high, congratulations to Russ. That’s big. The way that him and the staff worked (last night), this team has the ability to put a lot of runs on the board. That’s big.”
“Just trying to make a bad season better. We’re playing to win at this point, so anything I can do to help the team win, that’s my main focus. This is the type of baseball that I enjoy. It’s high intensity and this is why you play the game. … It’s the first time that I actually struggled this much through a season, but I feel better now and feel like I’m helping the team win. It’s definitely a better feeling.”
Associated Press photo