Martin expected to avoid DL for neck spasms

Injury contributing to 33-year-old catcher's struggles at the plate

April 30th, 2016

ST. PETERSBURG -- Russell Martin is not going to require a stint on the 15-day disabled list, but he's also not ready to play every day because of a lingering neck issue.

Martin has been in and out of the lineup over the last week because of neck spasms. He was initially held out of Saturday night's 4-3 loss to the Rays, but he did enter in the bottom of the ninth inning as a defensive replacement.

Despite the frequent days off, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons does not believe his catcher needs an extended period of time off. Earlier this week, Martin struck out in nine consecutive at-bats, and it's clear the injury is impacting his performance. But Toronto is going to pick its spots to rest the veteran catcher.

"He's not 100 percent, that's for sure," Gibbons said prior to the loss. "He's gutting it out, really is what he's doing. But you can tell he's favouring it, but he helps us so much, defensively, we'll sacrifice a little bit of offence for that."

The plan for Martin was to sit out Saturday night and then play Sunday afternoon. Gibbons did not want to start Martin in a night game and then play him again the following afternoon, so this is one way to build in a little bit of extra rest.

Martin, who was replaced in the lineup by backup Josh Thole, is hitting just .150 (9-for-60) with one extra-base hit and four RBIs. He has struck out 31 times, which is far greater than the number of times Martin has reached base this year (13).

"It will do him some good," Gibbons said of the day off. "We'll give him tonight and let him play tomorrow. He's not ready to play back to back. Do him some good, give him a night of rest and let him catch [Marcus Stroman] tomorrow."