Russell Martin made his first start and stop at shortstop before breaking up a no-hitter
Russell Martin is not a shortstop. He's a catcher, and a darned good one. You could even say he is an absentee third baseman and second baseman, judging by the handful of games he's appeared there over his career. But a shortstop? He played one whole big league inning at the position before Saturday's 2-1 loss against the Phillies -- and that came on May 15 (though he was more than willing to do it had Team Canada needed him). He never even had a chance to show off his fielding range that day.
So, come Saturday, he got another chance as manager John Gibbons penciled Martin's name into the lineup. The 35-year-old was batting sixth and playing at the six for the team from the six.
Come the fifth inning, he finally got a chance to show off his glove:
Sure, it may not have been the most difficult of plays, but Martin still ranged to his backhand side and made a long throw for the out. Plus, Jose Reyes is the only player 35-or-older to even appear at shortstop.
"As a kid growing up, my dream was to always play shortstop at the Major League level," Martin said after the game. "I got away from it when I got converted to being a catcher after my first season in pro ball. But I've always felt like I've had the ability to play there. Getting that opportunity was awesome."
Naturally, like the old baseball prophecy goes, "If you're a catcher making your first start at shortstop at the age of 35, then you will break up a no-hitter -- following a brief rain delay -- in the seventh inning or later." Sure enough, that came to pass, as Martin hit an RBI single to tie the game at 1-1 and end Aaron Nola's day. (Crazy how accurate that very famous prediction was, huh?)
Hailing from Canada, Martin was nice enough to join with the cheering Philly fans as Nola made his exit:
While it was a good day at the plate and in the field, don't expect to see Martin out there too often.
"If we were healthy, I wouldn't sniff that position," Martin said. "But right now, I feel like we've got a lot of guys hurt and Gibby is trying to work things, keep guys in the lineup and find ways to win."
"If they want me to play shortstop everyday, I'll play shortstop everyday," Martin added. "But I don't think that's going to happen. I definitely like the catching position. Over the years, I fell in love with it. You're involved in every play, you get to strategize and it's a completely different feel when you play a different position than catcher."