BALTIMORE -- With the Blue Jays embracing a full-blown youth movement in the final month of the season, there has been a conspicuous absence in the everyday lineup, a former mainstay who has spent the last couple of weeks watching from the dugout.Former starting catcher Russell Martin hasn't appeared in
BALTIMORE -- With the Blue Jays embracing a full-blown youth movement in the final month of the season, there has been a conspicuous absence in the everyday lineup, a former mainstay who has spent the last couple of weeks watching from the dugout.
Former starting catcher Russell Martin hasn't appeared in a game since Sept. 3 as the Blue Jays allocated playing time to the rookie catching duo of Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire with some occasional appearances from backup Luke Maile.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons announced earlier this month that Martin's playing time would be reduced over the final weeks of the season. The expectation at that time, at least from members of the media, was that Martin wouldn't be playing as often, but would still get used. So far, that hasn't been the case.
Martin was approached by a few Toronto reporters to discuss his current situation prior to Wednesday night's game against the Orioles. The 35-year-old was noticeably hesitant to talk, possibly because he doesn't want to start a controversy, but after some prodding, the 13-year veteran held court to discuss where things stand with the team.
The first question Martin was asked centered around his lack of playing time in September. "I've enjoyed watching the boys play," Martin said. "Nice to see the guys play hard, play well. Next question."
A reporter followed up with a question about Martin's meeting with Gibbons at the start of September and whether he was frustrated that the end result has been more than a two-week layoff. "I'm good, man," Martin replied.
Martin's reluctance to talk and his possible frustration is understandable considering he has never really been in this situation before. The product of Montreal notably made the postseason for teams he played for in all but one year from 2008-16. His first two years in Toronto were met with overwhelming team success, but the last two seasons have been a much different story.
As the questioning from reporters continued, Martin was once again asked whether he was OK with the current situation or whether he was frustrated about essentially sitting out the final month of the season. That's when he finally opened up and tried to set the record straight.
"No. I mean we're not in it," Martin said. "I'm used to playing for a place in the playoffs late in the season, and this year is one of those seasons where we kind of fell short. And now's the best time to give an opportunity to your young players to see what they can do at the Major League level. They don't have that much experience.
"So it's easy for me to be like, 'Let the kids play. Let's see what they can do.' We have a couple of young catchers that need work in. They probably haven't played that many seasons deep into September, so it kind of gives them an idea of what it's like, how it taxes your body, playing that extra month. But the obvious answer is, I love to compete. I do love to play, but I just feel in this type of situation, what's best for the team is to see what the young players can do."
What all of this means for Martin's future remains unclear. The Blue Jays are clearly in the process of rebuilding, and the focus has shifted to younger players, but Martin remains under contract for one more year at $20 million.
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.