Russell Martin blames ‘distractions’ for his poor play

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Russell Martin has a good explanation for why he isn’t any good anymore, and it’s not going to be very comforting to Dodgers fans.

Martin, a two-time All-Star catcher who signed a one-year, $4 million deal with New York Yankees this offseason, told Canada’s National Post that, more or less, he just hasn’t been trying very hard, and that’s why he managed just a .680 OPS over the last two seasons.

Why would a guy who makes millions of dollars just to play a game dog it? Because he was distracted, of course.

“I had some distractions that maybe led me not to have that same drive that I’ve had in the past,” he said. “Really, that’s all it is, honestly. I didn’t train quite as–I trained hard, but before, nobody trained as hard as I did.”

Martin wouldn’t explain what those distractions were, though Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times notes that there was concern “in some quarters that Martin was too much the Hollywood party guy.” Also, there was the matter of his distracting girlfriend.

Martin, who turns 28 next month, insists that his problems/distractions/slack attitude are behind him and he is looking forward to joining the Yankees. He said he chose New York over his hometown Toronto Blue Jays because the Yankees have a better chance to win the World Series, but I think it’s because the Yankees have stars who can party, date starlets and play hard, all at the same time. Jeter, A-Rod and the gang can teach him much.

“I think I’ve got a lot to prove,” he said, “especially with the last couple years that I’ve had.” He’s right about that.

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Giancarlo Stanton will defend his Home Run Derby title

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The Marlins announced on Sunday that outfielder Giancarlo Stanton will defend his Home Run Derby title when the city of Miami host’s the All-Star Game festivities next month.

Stanton, 27, defeated Todd Frazier in the finals of last year’s Home Run Derby at Petco Park, hitting 20 home runs to Frazier’s 13. Stanton hit a total of 61 home runs in the Derby. This will be the third Home Run Derby in which Stanton has participated.

Stanton also went 1-for-3 with a solo home run to help the Marlins defeat the Cubs 4-2 on Sunday. He’s now batting .274/.357/.551 with 20 home runs and 49 RBI in 311 plate appearances.

Aaron Hicks to go on the disabled list with an oblique injury

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks left Sunday’s game against the Rangers after four innings due to soreness in his right oblique. After the game, Hicks said he expects to go on the 10-day disabled list and miss the next three to four weeks, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports.

Hicks was 1-for-2 with a single before departing on Sunday. He entered the game batting .288/.397/.515 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI in 198 plate appearances. It is by far the best season of his career.

Jacoby Ellsbury is on his way back from a concussion, so the Yankees will only have to bridge the gap in center field for a week or two. Mason Williams could draw some starts in center field in the meantime.