Martin healthy, grateful for opportunity in '19

Indians outfielder overcomes serious illness at end of last season

January 14th, 2019

CLEVELAND -- clearly remembers his first six games in an Indians uniform, but soon after his final plate appearance against the Twins on Aug. 7, his memory vanished.

Martin was acquired in a deal with the Tigers at the non-waiver Trade Deadline last season, and he made a quick impact with his new team, hitting .333 with two homers and four RBIs in 17 plate appearances. But soon after that Tuesday night game against Minnesota, Martin became ill and alerted the Tribe's medical staff.

"I still have no idea," Martin said. "The only thing that I remember is I felt pain. I don't know where. I don't remember anything else."

Martin has no recollection of whether he called someone about his condition later that night or how he got to the hospital, but he was admitted to Cleveland Clinic just a few hours later. It was then that doctors discovered bacteria had entered into his bloodstream, producing toxins that affected the functionality of many of his internal organs.

Martin was fighting for his life.

"It was a really tough moment for me, my family, my teammates," Martin said. "But thank God, I'm still alive."

After a few days in the intensive care unit, Martin started to show positive signs of progression. Once it was known he was in stable condition, Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti met the team in Cincinnati to deliver the news. They may have only been teammates with Martin for about a week prior to the illness, but many of the players showed their concern and support by writing "LM13" on their caps.

"That was really emotional for me," Martin said. "I watched the games and saw the support from my teammates, and all through the process, I had a lot of support. The fans, friends, my teammates, the front-office guys here in Cleveland ... there was a lot of support. I'm really thankful for that and I'll never forget that."

About a week after being admitted, Martin was taken out of the intensive care unit. The outfielder said he remembers finally being able to understand what had happened to him within a day or two of leaving the ICU.

"Yeah, [I thought about never being able to play baseball again]," Martin said. "A lot of bad things came into my mind. ... At that moment, thank God, I'm in good shape right now."

But baseball quickly became a second priority when his life was put in danger. After leaving the hospital on Aug. 19, 11 days after being admitted, the Indians' and Martin's focus was not on how quickly he could return to the team, but making sure he took his time to make a full recovery.

"The doctors, they were doing everything in baby steps, slow," Martin said. "We had plenty of time to show up at Spring Training ready, so we did everything right, took it slow."

On Nov. 20, just over three months from the time when there was a chance Martin may never step foot on a diamond again, he was cleared to resume all baseball activity.

"Awesome," Martin said of his reaction to hearing he was healthy enough to be cleared. "Yeah. It was a long recovery. Thank God and thanks to the people at the Cleveland Clinic. They saved my life [and made it so I'm] being able to play baseball again.

"I feel 100 percent now. Like normal, like I used to be, to do all types of baseball activities."

Martin is doing his best to turn the page by keeping this life-altering event in the past, but he knows his first game back on a big league field will be an emotional moment.

"I got a second chance, so I'm going to enjoy every single time I wear the Cleveland Indians uniform," Martin said. "I'm going to be out there doing my best and trying to do my job the best that I can."

Because he only has six games with the Indians under his belt, one could assume that 2019 will feel like a brand new start with a brand new team, but Martin said it seems like he's been a part of the Tribe for a long time.

"I feel like this is home," Martin said. "The way everybody treated me here, the way everybody supported me here during that process made me feel at home. I am very thankful to be here with the Cleveland Indians and I'm so happy to be back."