Martin during the 2015 season
Toronto Blue Jays – No. 55
February 15, 1983 |
|May 5, 2006 for the Los Angeles Dodgers|
(through April 18, 2015)
|Runs batted in||546|
Career highlights and awards
Russell Nathan Jeanson Coltrane Martin, Jr. (born February 15, 1983) is a Canadian professional baseball catcher for the Toronto Blue Jays of Major League Baseball (MLB). He has previously played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates, and is a three-time MLB All-Star. In 2007, Martin won the Gold Glove Award and Silver Slugger Award.
Martin became the everyday catcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers immediately upon his MLB debut in 2006, and continued in that role for nearly five years. His offensive and defensive performance earned wide accolades during his first three years, but they diminished significantly in 2009 and 2010; Martin spent the last two months of 2010 on the disabled list. After the Dodgers declined to offer him arbitration in 2011, he signed with the Yankees and succeeded Jorge Posada as the Yankees' everyday catcher.
In November 2012, Martin signed a two-year free agent contract with the Pirates and took over the team's everyday catcher duties. Following the 2014 season, he signed a five-year, $82 million contract with his hometown Blue Jays.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers selected Martin in the 17th round of the 2002 Major League Baseball Draft. Martin was originally a third baseman before switching to catcher after a scout saw him playing for the Gulf Coast Dodgers in Rookie Ball and thought he showed more promise in that position. Martin was a Florida State League All-Star catcher while with the Vero Beach Dodgers in 2004 and Baseball America 2nd Team Minor League All-Star and Southern League All-Star while with the Jacksonville Suns in 2005.
Martin was promoted to the Dodgers on May 5, 2006, after a wrist injury to starting catcher Dioner Navarro. He got two hits, including a double, in the game. His first hit was against Chris Capuano. On May 7, he hit his first major league home run against Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Dave Bush. On June 6, 2006, Martin and Éric Gagné made baseball history by becoming the first French Canadian battery in the majors. Martin's play was good enough that, on June 26, 2006, Navarro was traded to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. On August 13, 2006, Martin hit his first career walk-off home run in a victory that completed a sweep of the rival San Francisco Giants. On September 18, 2006, Martin hit a solo home run off of Trevor Hoffman, the third of four consecutive home runs in the bottom of the 9th inning to tie the San Diego Padres, it was the first time four home runs have been hit in a row since the 1964 Minnesota Twins.
In May 2007, Martin broke the Dodgers' franchise record for single-season steals by a catcher (12) set by John Roseboro in 1962. On July 1 it was announced that Martin finished in first place in All-Star Game voting, leading Paul Lo Duca by 296,948 votes. He became the first ever Canadian born catcher to start the All-Star Game.
On May 2, 2008, Martin started his first game at third base since reaching the Majors, allowing veteran backup Gary Bennett to spell Martin behind the plate. Martin made his second all-star game during the 2008 season. He caught 10 innings of a 15 inning game in which the American League won 4 to 3. Martin's 10 innings caught are tied for fourth place all time among all star catchers in a single game.
On January 20, 2009, Martin signed a one-year, $3.9 million contract to avoid salary arbitration. The deal was the largest ever awarded to a catcher in his first year of arbitration. He played for the Canadian team during the 2009 World Baseball Classic and then rejoined the Dodgers. He slumped offensively in 2009, hitting only .250 with 7 home runs in 143 games, the weakest totals in his four-year career.
In 2010, Martin continued to regress as he hit .248 with 5 home runs and 26 RBI in 97 games. In August, Martin suffered a torn labrum in his right hip when he was trying to avoid a tag at home plate in a game against the Padres. The injury kept him sidelined for the rest of the season.
Due to his uncertain recovery from injury and declining production, and concern that Martin would be awarded a salary as high as $6 million in arbitration, the Dodgers did not tender Martin a contract for 2011 and allowed him to become a free agent. The Dodgers offered Martin a one-year contract worth $4.2 million prior to the arbitration hearings but he insisted on receiving well above $5 million. After Martin rebuffed the Dodgers' offer, the Dodgers non-tendered him and signed journeyman catcher Rod Barajas, though hinting that Martin could still have a place on the team. Martin said the Dodgers had shown by avoiding arbitration that they no longer "believed in" him.
New York Yankees
Martin began the 2011 season as the everyday catcher for the Yankees. He was elected to the 2011 American League All-Star team as a Yankee.
Along with Robinson Canó and Curtis Granderson, Martin was one of the Yankees' three batters who hit an MLB record three grand slams in a single game in a 22–9 rout of the Oakland Athletics at Yankee Stadium on August 25, 2011.
As a Super Two player, Martin was eligible for arbitration for a fourth time, and he signed a $7.5 million one-year contract with up to $100,000 in performance bonuses with the Yankees to avoid arbitration on January 24. He spent the year as the starting catcher with Chris Stewart as his backup. In 133 games, he hit .211 with 21 HR and 53 RBI. Martin started all 9 games of the Yankees postseason, going 5-31 with 1 HR.
On November 29, 2012, Ken Rosenthal reported that the Pittsburgh Pirates had signed Martin for two years and $17 million. The deal became official on November 30. On June 4, 2013, Martin made his first start and appearance at right field. On June 8, 2013, Martin hit his 100th career home run. In the NL Wild Card game on October 1, 2013, Martin hit a pair of solo home runs as the Pirates defeated the Cincinnati Reds 6-2. The win was the Pirates first post-season victory in 21 years.
During a game against the Milwaukee Brewers on April 20, 2014, Martin was involved in a brawl that was started after Carlos Gomez hit a triple off of Gerrit Cole. Martin was suspended 2 games by the MLB on April 22, 2014 for his role in the brawl.
Toronto Blue Jays
On November 18, 2014, the Toronto Blue Jays announced that they had signed Martin to a five year, $82 million contract. Early in spring training, manager John Gibbons told reporters that Martin would be R. A. Dickey's catcher during practice and in preseason games, in order to give him the opportunity to catch Dickey's knuckleball. Martin received a standing ovation from the fans at Olympic Stadium on April 3, as the Blue Jays played their final two spring training games in Montreal for the second consecutive year. On April 19, Martin caught Jeff Francis in his debut for the Blue Jays, and in doing so formed the first all-Canadian battery in franchise history.
Martin was first selected to play for Canada during the 2009 World Baseball Classic. That year, in an effort to quit the use of chewing tobacco, Martin began wearing a custom-fitted mouthpiece during the WBC and Spring Training. Martin hoped to switch to shortstop during the 2013 World Baseball Classic, citing he did not want to learn another pitching staff during the tournament, because he was already learning a new staff in Pittsburgh. Martin played third base in the minors before converting to catcher. Martin would later withdraw his name, citing soreness.
Martin was born in Toronto, Ontario, and spent his early childhood in Quebec. He is biracial: his father, Russell Martin Sr., is black, while his mother, Suzanne Jeanson, is white. They separated when Martin was two years old. His full name is Russell Nathan Jeanson Coltrane Martin, Jr. Russell is taken from his father, Nathan from his great-grandfather, Jeanson from his mother, and Coltrane to pay homage to John Coltrane. His father used to play saxophone in Montreal subway stations to help pay for his baseball training. When Martin was eight years old, his mother remarried, and he relocated with his mother and sister to Paris, France. On April 3, 2015 at the spring training game of the Toronto Blue Jays hosting the Cincinnati Reds at Montreal Olympic Stadium, Russell Martin Sr. played the Canadian National Anthem on his saxophone.
Along with playing baseball in the Montreal neighbourhood of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Martin played hockey for N.D.G. Minor Hockey. He graduated from Polyvalente Édouard-Montpetit High School. After graduating from high school, Martin took a junior college scholarship at Chipola College in Marianna, Florida.
Martin changed the name printed on his jersey to "J. Martin" for the 2009 season in reference to one of his middle names "Jeanson", in honor of his mother.
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Martin's walk-off grand slam sends Dodgers past Pirates
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Russell Martin.|
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
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