BOSTON -- Russell Martin spent 12 years as a starting catcher, but in his 13th season he has turned into Mr. Versatility for the Blue Jays.
Martin got the start in left field on Monday afternoon in Boston. It marked the fourth position he has started this season and his first game in the outfield since 2013. Martin had an up-and-down day in Toronto's 8-3 loss, making a putout in the fourth but also having some trouble with Fenway Park's notoriously difficult Green Monster, notably misplaying a ball off the bat of Andrew Benintendi that ended up going for a triple.
The 35-year-old became the first player to start at least one game at catcher, third base, shortstop and left field in the same season since Marty Martinez did it for the Astros in 1969. Martin has been a backstop in all but 24 of his 1,440 career big league starts, though he had been an infielder for much of his amateur career before making the shift to catcher.
"Every time he plays a new position, you guys are going to make a big deal out of it?" Blue Jays manager John Gibbons joked with reporters before the game. "I don't think [left field] is easier to play, but it's smaller. If you play a guy like John Smith, he doesn't have much experience with the Monster, either. Even guys who play a long time, it can be tricky to play, but I think the size of it [is better than right] for him."
The Blue Jays' attrition and personnel have allowed them to be creative in how they deploy Martin, who looked sharp in his start on Saturday at shortstop against the Phillies. Outfielder Randal Grichuk and shortstops Troy Tulowitzki and Aledmys Diaz are on the disabled list.
The reasoning behind inserting Martin into the lineup at left field on Monday was pretty simple. With lefty David Price on the mound for the Red Sox, Gibbons wanted to use as many right-handed bats as possible. That meant starting Luke Maile behind the plate and slotting Martin in left over veteran Curtis Granderson.
Martinez was not an everyday player for the 1969 Astros, and he was primarily used when and where he was needed. That year, he played in 78 games and hit a career-high .308 while logging time at every position but first base, center field and right field.
"Lefty on the mound, right-handed bats, get them in there," Gibbons said.
• Grichuk is nearing the completion of his rehab assignment with Double-A New Hampshire. Grichuk has been out since April 29 with a sprained posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and began a rehab assignment last Tuesday.
The fifth-year outfielder entered play on Monday with three hits in nine at-bats, including a home run and two RBIs. There's an outside chance he could join the Blue Jays before the end of their current three-game series in Boston, but even if that doesn't happen his return should take place later in the week.
"Make sure he gets plenty of at-bats so when he comes back he's not rushed," Gibbons said. "I think he needs the at-bats. Now, saying that, if push comes to shove and we need him."
• In other injury news, Toronto announced that Diaz will begin a rehab assignment with New Hampshire on Monday. Diaz has been out since May 6 with a sprained left ankle. It's not immediately clear when Diaz would be eligible to return, but he is expected to require at least a few rehab games before coming off the DL.
• Right-hander Marcus Stroman is scheduled for long toss and a bullpen session this week. There is still no immediate time frame for his return to the Blue Jays' rotation.
• Left fielder Steve Pearce, who has been out since May 3 with a strained oblique muscle, is scheduled to begin a hitting progression this week. Pearce likely will begin hitting off a tee and taking light batting practice in the near future.
• Tulowitzki was scheduled to begin running on flat ground on Tuesday after previously running on an anti-gravity machine. There is no timetable for his return as he continues to rehab from surgeries to remove bone spurs from each of his feet.