Russell Martin plans to play shortstop for Canada in the World Baseball Classic

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We heard about the possibility earlier this winter, but now it looks like it’s actually gonna happen. Or so Russell Martin tells FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi, anyway.

Martin, 30, has played nearly 1,000 games in the major leagues — not one as a shortstop. But that’s probably going to be his position when he suits up for Canada at next month’s World Baseball Classic.

“It’s hilarious, the reactions I get,” Martin said Monday at the Pirates’ spring complex. “It’s like, ‘This guy’s a catcher. He wants to play shortstop.’ ”

Martin has never played shortstop in the major leagues, but he was a shortstop and third baseman in high school and college. He has logged 75 1/3 at third base in the major leagues and two innings at second, though he hasn’t started a game in the infield since 2008 as a member of the Dodgers. Still, he wants to give it a whirl since Canada doesn’t have a shortstop with extensive major league experience. While it would be cool to see, it could leave Canada vulnerable behind the plate, as Orioles’ minor leaguer Chris Robinson is the only other catcher on the team’s provisional roster.

While Martin notes that “everybody” in Pirates’ camp is “surprised” about his intention to play shortstop, the team supports his choice to participate in the WBC and make the temporary position switch. The 30-year-old signed a two-year, $17 million contract with Pittsburgh over the winter.

Anibal Sanchez accepts optional assignment to Triple-A

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The Tigers announced on Monday that pitcher Anibal Sanchez has accepted an optional assignment to Triple-A Toledo. Pitcher Warwick Saupold was recalled from Toledo to take Sanchez’s roster spot.

Sanchez, 33, continued to struggle this season pitching out of the bullpen. He gave up 26 runs (21 earned) on 34 hits and nine walks with 22 strikeouts in 21 innings. Nine of those 34 hits were home runs. Sanchez finished the 2015 season with a 4.99 ERA and last season with a 5.87 ERA, so he’s had a rough go of it in recent years.

The decision to go to Triple-A was Sanchez’s, Anthony Fenech of the Free Press reports. Sanchez wants to be stretched out as a starting pitcher again.

Braves release James Loney

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Just a few days after inking him to a minor league deal, the Braves have released first baseman James Loney, the team announced on Monday. Loney became expendable when the Braves acquired Matt Adams from the Cardinals on Saturday as a replacement for the injured Freddie Freeman.

Loney, 33, appeared in two games at Triple-A Gwinnett. He had one hit, a single, and one walk in eight plate appearances.

Loney will likely have to wait for another team to deal with an injured first baseman or DH before he can secure another contract.