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.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉