How Hurt is Russell Martin?
Baseball players play through injuries all the time. They may go days, weeks, even months with a nagging injury. Often times, it isn’t reported until after the fact.
But there is one injury that’s very apparent and quite clearly affecting Russell Martin.
During last night’s game against the Phillies, he looked to be in a considerable amount of pain as he exited the batter’s box and then hobbled down the first base line.
Had it not been for a bobble by the Phillies’ shortstop Freddy Galvis, Martin would’ve been out by a mile; but instead, he was awarded with a single.
Post-game, Russell Martin was asked about his ailment, and while he wasn’t specific about his injury, Martin admitted that he has been suffering from a nagging injury:
“It’s sore but it’s not career-threatening or anything like that, so it’s not an excuse.”
It’s the very same left hamstring which sent him to the disabled list in early 2014 when he was with the Pittsburgh Pirates. It’s also the same injury which flared up late in 2014 as Martin was listed day-to-day on a few occasions.
It’s apparent that something hasn’t been quite right with Russell Martin for quite a while now, but his at bat in the ninth inning was a clear indication that he’s playing hurt.
Not only did he wince as he swung, but it looked like he was in a great deal of pain as he limped down to first base.
The question many are asking today is “why did Martin start that game in the first place?”. Russell Martin caught R.A. Dickey the night before, and as we’ve seen, catching a knuckleballer can be a physically daunting task.
When asked by a reported whether he was going to give Russell Martin some time off, John Gibbons responded like a typical hard-nosed father would:
“I think he’s fine, he’s not complaining about it. He hasn’t complained once.”
The last thing a baseball player would do (especially one like Russell Martin) is go to their manager and ask for a day off. These are competitors after all and the Blue Jays are in the thick of a playoff race.
I don’t fault John Gibbons for starting Russell Martin in that game; the Blue Jays have been struggling offensively as of late, and Martin is certainly an offensive and defensive upgrade over Dioner Navarro.
In many cases, most managers would take a hobbling Russell Martin over a perfectly healthy and well-rested Dioner Navarro. Martin simply adds so much more to the game, even with a nagging hamstring injury.
But in retrospect, that may have been an opportune time to let Dioner Navarro continue to work with Mark Buehrle and give Russell Martin the night off. Regardless, the Blue Jays have an off-day today, and another one after this upcoming series with the Angels as well.
Russell Martin is hardly the only guy on the roster who isn’t 100% right now. Edwin Encarnacion still has a sore finger, Jose Bautista had a shoulder injury earlier in the season, plus many other injuries which we probably don’t even know about.
Russell Martin has started 95 of 121 games for the Toronto Blue Jays this season. At that pace, Martin would start 128 games this season; which would be his most games started since 2013.
Unless Russell Martin’s injury becomes much more of a serious issue, I don’t foresee him going on the disabled list in the near future. Again, this is a key player on the roster that’s battling for a playoff spot, and the last thing the Jays want to do is to lose Martin for two weeks (or potentially more).
Also, keep in mind … these are the dog days of summer. After 121 games played and three-quarters of the season already complete, this is the point in the season when baseball players tend to break down and get tired.
I think the Blue Jays are simply waiting for the rosters to open up on September 1st to give Russell Martin a little bit of rest and allow him to recuperate with some time on the bench. They’d much rather that than lose him to the disabled list.
I always find it remarkable the amount of pain that athletes can play through and are still able to perform their job at an elite level. But when the pain becomes so evident that it’s written across their face, that may be a time to look at some alternatives.
Russell Martin’s injury may not be one that’s going to go away any time soon. But if he continues to play with as much pain as he was in on Tuesday, the Blue Jays may need to come up with a Plan B in a hurry.
Image via Jason O. Watson/Getty Images Sport
One thought on “How Hurt is Russell Martin?”
Great post, Ian. I agree with everything here, and I bet Gibby would probably have started Navarro in hindsight.
Of course he isn't going to let the media raise the question of Martin's injury. If he says something like "yeah, we've thought about it" he creates a cycle of people asking "well, why didn't you rest him?". He's really good at handling the media, and protecting his players.
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