Russell Martin is in The Best Shape of His Life. Again!

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Last Sam Miller of the OC Register/Baseball Prospectus noticed something neat:  Russell Martin declares himself to be in The Best Shape of His Life just about every single year.  Really: Here he is in 2008, here he is in 2009, here he is in 2010 and here he is last year.

So, shocker, but Martin is out there crowing about how he’s in good shape once again.  From Yahoo!

Russell Martin is healthy going into spring training, a change from his first season as a Yankee, when he was finishing up rehab on an injured hip and knee. Before 2011 spring training, Martin had little chance to build power in his legs, so a full winter of workouts “will be a huge difference,” Martin told the New York Daily News. Martin believes, in fact, that he might be the fittest Yankee in camp this year. “If there’s any guys in more shape than me, I”d be surprised,” Martin said. “If there are, I’d be happy, because I’m coming ready this year.” Martin also said he’s already begun taking swings, something he didn’t do until a few days before spring training began last year.

So, last year’s claim that he was “in the best shape of his career” was a bald-faced lie?  Say it ain’t so, Russ!

And if it is so then — brace yourselves people — it’s possible that all of these players claiming to be in such great shape are full of baloney and are making such claims either because (a) they are taking kindly to reporters by throwing them a meaningless bone when they have nothing else to report; or (b) they are trying to mask eroding baseball skills with a sheen of positive P.R.

I know. Crazy.

The Cubs will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday

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The Cubs soundly defeated the Cardinals on Monday night, 10-2, sending their magic number down to one. They will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday with another win against the Cardinals. Alternatively, if they lose, they can still clinch if the Brewers also lose on Tuesday.

The Cubs, of course, won the Central last year en route to winning their first World Series since 1908. It wasn’t nearly as easy this year as the club was below .500 entering June and was exactly at .500 entering July. A 16-8 July, 17-12 August, and 15-8 September have helped put the Cubs back in position to return to the postseason.

Not to be forgotten, the Cardinals were eliminated from NL Central contention with Monday’s loss. Now they have their sights set on the second NL Wild Card slot and currently trail the Rockies in that race.

The matchups for Tuesday’s action:

Carter Capps to undergo surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome

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Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune reports that Padres pitcher Carter Capps will undergo surgery this offseason to address thoracic outlet syndrome, which doctors believe caused the right-hander’s blood clots. The Padres hope to have him ready by spring training next year.

Capps, 27, underwent Tommy John surgery last year and didn’t debut this season until August 7. He made 11 relief appearances, yielding nine runs on 12 hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings. He went back on the DL on September 12 due to the blood clot issue.

The Padres acquired Capps from the Marlins last July in the Andrew Cashner trade which ended up having a lot of moving parts. Capps will enter his third and final year of arbitration eligibility this offseason. It’s quite possible the Padres choose to non-tender him.