Russell Martin told reporters earlier this month that he was planning to play shortstop for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic. But it won’t happen.
According to beat writer Tom Singer of MLB.com, Martin has withdrawn from the event because the Pirates and officials from Team Canada have told him that they don’t want him playing anything but catcher for fear that he might suffer an injury.
“They both were uneasy about that and I simply didn’t want to catch,” said Martin, who was born in East York, Ontario. “I feel sorry for (Team Canada), but sometimes you just have to look out for what’s best for you. You have to make a personal choice. But I’m really sorry for how all this went down.”
Martin signed a two-year, $17 million free agent contract with the Bucs in late November and will open the 2013 season as Pittsburgh’s starting catcher. He hit .211/.311/.403 with 21 homers for the Yankees in 2012.
The Braves reportedly have a deal in place with free agent catcher Kurt Suzuki, per Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that the contract is for one year, $1.5 million with up to $2.5 million in additional incentives.
Suzuki, 33, completed a three-year track with the Twins in 2016, slashing .258/.301/.403 with eight home runs in 373 PA. The veteran backstop likely won’t provide an offensive or defensive upgrade over current starter Tyler Flowers, but should give the Braves some depth at a position they’ve been looking to strengthen since the start of the offseason.
The team has yet to confirm the deal.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.