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.
Yankees’ special advisor and former outfielder Hideki Matsui expects to help the club “convince or recruit” Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani, according to a report from MLB.com’s Deesha Thosar. The Yankees are currently viewed as the favorites to sign Otani, though there still figures to be plenty of competition for his services when he finally becomes eligible to enter Major League Baseball.
Matsui also told Thosar that while he hasn’t seen a player find success as a hybrid pitcher/slugger in the majors, he’s taken notice of Otani’s success in both areas. “He’s done well in Japan, so as a baseball fan I’m looking forward to how he’s going to do here in the Majors and in the U.S.,” Matsui said, later adding, “If [pitching and hitting is] something he wants to do, and the team wants it, then why not?”
Neither the Yankees nor any other suitor should be too concerned with Otani’s ability to translate his .332 batting average and 3.20 ERA to MLB — at least, not just yet. There are still a few roadblocks in his path to the major leagues, most notably the lack of approval from the Players Association. Per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the union doesn’t want to sign off on an agreement that would give the Nippon Ham Fighters a $20 million posting fee in exchange for Otani’s services. According to the posting system rules, Otani himself would be eligible to receive no more than a $4 million signing bonus.
The good news in all of this? The union agreed to reach a final decision by Monday, November 21, so there’s still a chance Major League Baseball will see the talented two-way player bring his unique skillset to the field in 2018.