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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Brandon McCarthy wins final spot in Dodgers’ rotation

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We learned on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu won one of the final two spots in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Brandon McCarthy has won the other, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports. Alex Wood was McCarthy’s competitor for the spot.

McCarthy, 33, posted a 4.85 ERA across four appearances spanning 13 innings this spring, yielding seven earned runs on 14 hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. Wood, a southpaw, gave up five earned runs in six innings against the Reds on Tuesday, which might have factored into the decision.

Last season, McCarthy made nine starts and one relief appearance, posting a 4.95 ERA with a 44/26 K/BB ratio in 40 innings. In the event McCarthy falters, the club has Wood as well as Julio Urias and the injured Scott Kazmir as potential replacements.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.