Martin makes first career start in right field
ATLANTA -- The last time Russell Martin played right field, Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista was playing alongside him in center while they roamed the outfield for Chipola College in Florida.
Martin returned to the outfield for the first time as a Major Leaguer when he got the start in right for Tuesday night's game at Turner Field, the most notable change within the 39th unique lineup for the Pirates this year.
Backup catcher Michael McKenry started behind the plate for Martin, while Travis Snider, the Pirates' regular right fielder with 31 starts this year, got the day off with left-hander Mike Minor on the mound for the Braves. Minor is just the second lefty starter the Pirates have faced in their past 22 games.
"We've had him out there taking reps," manager Clint Hurdle said of Martin. "I'm trying to put what I believe is a team out there that can provide us some offense against the matchup off the mound. We've been creative with the guys all year, continuing to try to keep some guys in play. This puts the most matchup bats out there."
Until Tuesday, the only position other than catcher that Martin had played in the field this year was third base, but with Monday night's home-plate umpire Dan Iassogna manning that station on Tuesday, moving Martin there was out of the question. Iassogna ejected Martin and Hurdle in the fourth inning of Monday night's 7-2 loss for arguing balls and strikes.
"That was a topic of discussion," Hurdle said. "As far away from the umpire as we can get the boy."
Martin did not seem thrown off by the change -- Hurdle often notifies players of changes in the lineup the night before -- but expected his earnest approach to guide him through any future trips to the outfield.
"I remember playing a ton of different positions when I was a kid," Martin said. "I tried to make the best of every situation. Obviously, my comfort level's probably highest behind the plate because I played there so much, but it's a challenge, and I like challenges."
"If he's in the lineup and he's not a catcher, he's 6 years old in the backyard, and that's not a bad thing," Hurdle said. "It takes him to a real good place."