Russell Martin might play shortstop for Canada in the WBC

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David Waldstein of the New York Times explains:

[Russell] Martin, a Canadian citizen, told Greg Hamilton, the Baseball Canada head coach and director of the national teams, that he wants to play shortstop in the W.B.C. Hamilton was receptive to the idea.

Canada has two major league catchers on its current roster, including Martin and Oakland’s George Kottaras, who is from Scarborough, Ontario. But it does not have a major league shortstop.

Martin played shortstop in high school and college, and has logged 75 1/3 career major league innings at third base. It might not be the prettiest thing to watch, but the 29-year-old can probably pull it off.

“If it’s something that would help the team, I am willing to do it,” Martin told the Times on Saturday in a telephone interview from Montreal, Quebec. “I told Greg I want to do it, and he said he’s open to it.”

Martin is still an MLB free agent but has drawn interest recently from several teams. The Mariners, Rangers and Red Sox have been linked to him, and the Yankees should be ready to make some sort of offer soon.

Athletics hire third base coach Matt Williams

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The Athletics have hired former MLB manager Matt Williams, the team announced Friday. Williams will take over third base coaching duties under manager Bob Melvin, filling the vacancy left by Nationals’ bench coach Chip Hale after the 2017 season.

Williams is no stranger to the Bay Area, but this will be his first time sporting the green and gold. He got his start in pro ball with the rival Giants in 1987, where he manned third base and collected four All-Star nominations before jumping ship to the American League in 1997. After a one-year stint in the Indians’ organization, he returned to the NL to finish off his 17-season career and eventually hung up his cleats with the Diamondbacks in 2003.

Post-retirement, Williams has crafted a resume that almost over-qualifies him for a coaching gig. He led the Nationals to a cumulative 179-145 record from 2014 to 2015 and earned props as NL Manager of the Year after bringing the team to a first-place finish in 2014. In 2016, he split the season as a first and third base coach in the D-backs’ organization, then accepted a studio analyst position with the Giants for the 2017 season. Although he has yet to suit up for the Athletics in any role, he’s not unfamiliar with skipper Bob Melvin. The two were teammates on the Giants’ 1987-88 roster and spent some time in Arizona together when Melvin took a coaching job there in the early 2000s.

While next year’s reunion will be fun to watch (unless, I suppose, you’re a Giants fan with a long memory), Williams may not have his sights set on a coaching role forever. As the San Francisco Chronicle’s John Shea reported back in July, the 51-year-old knows what it feels like to win as a manager, and it’s a position he might be open to pursuing in the future.

“For me, my most comfortable space is in uniform,” he told Shea. “I’ve done the ownership thing and front-office stuff, and that’s fun. The most gratification I get is swinging a fungo and throwing batting practice and being on the field. It’s what you know and love. I look at myself as a teacher first and foremost. At the end of the day, I think that’s how I have my greatest influence.”