Q&A With Pirates Catcher Russell Martin

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Pittsburgh Pirates' Spring Training complex in Bradenton, Florida.

BY CHRIS TOMAN


I spoke to Russell Martin in Bradenton, Fla. earlier this week about his decision to skip the World Baseball Classic and the ensuing criticism he faced from Canadian fans and players.

You can find a piece I did on Martin in the National Post, where he expresses his desire to play in the next WBC, in 2017. But there's a catch -- he's still adamant about playing shortstop.

Below is the rest of my one-on-one interview with Martin.

What was it like getting booed at your home park? [Martin was booed in all three of his plate appearances against the Blue Jays in Wednesday's game].

"I was ready for it. They care. They were hoping Team Canada would have its best roster -- I get it. I understand that they didn't have much righty bats. 

"But, from my perspective, I thought Chris Robinson did a nice job for them. I was happy to see him grind it out and he got some good exposure. As far as the boos go, I don't take it too personal. It's going to happen. I almost use it as motivation. It's like people don't want me to succeed and I like trying to prove people wrong."

Were you able to catch any of Canada's games? 

"I just mainly saw some highlights. I didn't watch it as much as I wanted to. I did see my guys. I saw some highlights, I saw some fights. I saw some good fights. 

"I saw some good baseball and that situation with Mexico -- that should never happen in baseball. The only reason that happened was because of the rules, the way they are made. I honestly feel there needs to be some adjustments with the WBC. It's just whether they are going to make them or not, that's up to them.

"I took a lot of heat but I know where my heart is at. If the tournament was mid-season or toward the end of the season, I would be the first guy there, ready to go. If I was ready and I would have felt good, I would have went. People can boo me if they want, it's fine. If they knew me personally, they wouldn't."

Think you would have any interest in catching the next WBC?

"The timing of it is tough for me. It's a time where you are trying to get your body ready, you are trying to get acclimated to catching a certain amount of innings. It does put a toll on your body. Ironically, I couldn't have played even if I wanted to go because I hurt my shoulder at the same time.

"Everything happened and it's just funny. It's adversity right now. It's good for me to have this. It's the first time that I have ever really been booed. Now I know how some of my teammates in the past have felt. I know how it feels. It's not a fun thing but if you use it as motivation, it's only fuel." 

It's one thing to hear it from fans but what about Brett Lawrie calling your decision to skip the WBC "weak." Does that bother you? 

"Those guys [Lawrie and Justin Morneau] just wanted me to be on the team so they could have the best team out there."

Are you cool with Lawrie then? 

"I don't know if he would be mad at me. I don't know. He got hurt and he was going balls out and he got hurt. Would he have gotten hurt if the tournament was mid-season or later in the season? Maybe, maybe not -- who knows. He's a hard-nosed-type-of-guy. He was probably going all out and that's what happens. So I rest my case." 

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