During his two years in New York, Russell Martin was pretty popular with the media. He developed a reputation for thoughtful analysis, and he became a go-to player in the clubhouse, a player willing to step away from clichés to deliver meaningful answers and worthwhile scrutiny. He was worthwhile again this afternoon standing outside the Pirates clubhouse.
On signing with the Pirates (and being passed over by the Yankees)
“I thought I was going to be in pinstripes. I thought I was going to be penciled in there, but shows how much I know. There’s really no hard feelings or anything like that. I see it as a business move, and that’s it, really. … There’s no regrets, that’s all I can say. I have no regrets. I am where I am, I’m happy, and I’m just ready to take on the season and see what happens.”
On Chris Stewart (and the Yankees catching situation in general)
“Both those guys can catch. I like both of them. I learned some stuff from Stewart last year just on how quick he is, first of all. Just throwing the ball to second base, and how quick his hands are. His game calling is really good. His receiving’s really good. So defensively, both those guys have got a lot of upside. Offensively, they don’t have the most power in the world, but that’s not the most important part of the game. Taking care of the pitchers is what’s going to get you to the playoffs, and I think they’re going to do a fine job.”
On Francisco Cervelli (and Cervelli’s past throwing problems)
“The thing with Cervelli that I noticed is that he tried to be quicker than he needed to be. I think maybe he’s more under control (this spring). He tried to be so quick, and he didn’t need to be. He’s got a great arm. He’s got great actions behind home plate. He’s really good defensively, but he’d get in his own way by trying to be too quick behind home plate, playing like he had his hair on fire sometimes.”
On the Yankees (and their lack of home run hitters)
“It seems like they always find a way, but it’s not the same bench. Swisher’s out. I’m out. Jones is out. Chavy’s gone. It’s going to be tough. Right now, with all the guys that are injured, it’s definitely an uphill battle it seems like, but I think they’re up for it. They’re going to prepare the same way. They’re going to go out there and compete the same way. It’s going to be a battle. It seems like it’s a little tougher division this year, too. It’s going to be a battle. I think they’re ready for it, but only time will tell.”
On A.J. Burnett (and Burnett’s role in Pittsburgh)
“He really relishes the fact that he’s the ace, and that he’s pretty much the leader of the pitchers. He’s embraced that role, and his attitude’s been awesome. If your ace is doing it, everyone else kinda follows. Kind of the way Jeter is. Now, I’m not comparing A.J. to Jeter at all, but as far as you want your leaders to go out there and lead by example, and that’s what A.J. is doing.”
• Ivan Nova was pitching pretty well before things started to get away from him during a three-run fourth inning. He said he’s still getting used to his altered mechanics without so much length in his delivery. “The curveball to Russell Martin, 3-2, middle of the inning, it wasn’t the motion of the arm that we’ve been doing,” Nova said. “Sometimes I fall behind hitters trying to get too slow. That’s when I get in trouble. As soon as I see that, I’ve just got to think, pick your arm a little bit more and short arm. … We’ve got like two more starts. I think this is going to be enough time to get ready for the beginning of the season.”
• Joe Girardi on the decision to release Matt Diaz: “We just thought the other guys were a little bit ahead of him, and to be fair to him and have a chance to catch on somewhere else.”
• Francisco Cervelli and Bobby Wilson are going to the minor league complex to help catch for Phil Hughes (sim game), Andy Pettitte (minor league game) and Mariano Rivera (minor league game).
• Kevin Youkilis has his batting average up to .308 with three home runs this spring. He went 2-for-4 with three RBI today.
• Melky Mesa crushed a grand slam today, his third home run of the spring. But he also made a pretty bad throw to first base, the second time in two days that he’s shown a strong arm but sent the ball sailing way too high.
• After being held scoreless in two games yesterday, the Yankees won 11-9 today. They scored eight runs in the first three innings, but wound up needing the cushion after Matt Tracy couldn’t close the door. He pitched a scoreless eighth, but couldn’t get an out in a four-run ninth. Chase Whitley wound up closing out the game.
• Eduardo Nunez had two hits and two stolen bases. … Brennan Boesch also had two hits and stole a bag as part of a double steal with Nunez. … Dave Robertson piched a scoreless inning, which ended with him catching a popup in front of the mound. Pitchers usually get out of the way in that situation, but this one was right to Robertson. … Mesa and Thomas Neal each have three stolen bases this spring (including one today).
• Tomorrow is an off day for most of the Yankees.
Associated Press photos