Martin looks like a natural at second
Swaps catcher's mitt for infielder's glove in ninth inning, makes flip on force
TORONTO -- There was a strange sight at Rogers Centre on Wednesday afternoon as former Gold Glove-winning catcher Russell Martin made an appearance at second base.
Martin spent the first eight innings of Wednesday's 5-3 loss behind the plate, but he moved to second after Ryan Goins had been lifted for a pinch-runner. That responsibility normally would have gone to Steve Tolleson, but the backup infielder wasn't available because of a strained groin.
That created an opportunity for Martin to fill in at second base for the second time in his career. The first time he played second was for two innings with the Yankees on Aug. 20, 2011.
"We had talked about it a couple of weeks ago," Martin said of his conversations with manager John Gibbons about playing second. "We had another situation where we were a little bit short on the bench. I always knew that it was a possibility, and I think he even asked me a couple of days ago, too, in a situation kind of like that.
"So, it wasn't really that much of a surprise, and I know I can play in the field. I played there for a long time, so I've had plenty of reps over there and it's kind of like riding a bike. Once you get out there, just play the game."
Martin didn't escape the ninth inning without being tested. A ground ball was hit up the middle by Adam Eaton and Martin ranged to his right before making a nice flip toss to Jose Reyes to get a force at second base. It was his first career assist as a second baseman, and he looked like a natural while doing it.
The infield isn't a completely foreign concept to the 10-year veteran. He's made 18 appearances at third base and he expressed an interest in playing shortstop for Team Canada at the World Baseball Classic in 2013. Even though he hasn't taken ground balls in years, Martin wasn't lacking confidence in his abilities after the game.
"I'm just a really good infielder, no matter what," Martin said in a joking manner.