Home Pittsburgh Sports College Football In the Dugout with Russell Martin

In the Dugout with Russell Martin

Russell Martin became the Pirates new starting catcher shortly after Thanksgiving when the former Yankee and Dodger agreed to a two-year, $17 million deal. The Pirates outbid the Yankees, Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners for his services.

The 29-year-old Martin spent the 2012 season with the New York Yankees and established a career high in homeruns (21) and was one of the three finalists in the voting for the Rawlings Gold Glove Award while appearing in 133 games for the A.L. East champs. Since making his debut with the Dodgers in 2006, Martin has thrown out a Major League leading 216 runners attempting to steal while ranking second overall with a 3.79 Catcher’s ERA in that time. A three-time All-Star (2007, 2008, 2011), Gold Glove Award winner (2007) and Silver Slugger (2007), Martin leads Major League catchers in games (777) and innings caught (6573.2) over the last six years (2007-2012). In his seven big league seasons, Martin has recorded a .260 batting average, 93 home runs, 418 RBI and a .352 on-base percentage. In addition, Martin is first among active catchers with 80 career stolen bases.

Martin talked about his decision to come to Pittsburgh.

What made the Pirates the right choice?
There’s more than one reason. A big part is the staff. The coaching staff and the players that are already here. I have some familiarity with some of them — A.J. Burnett, James McDonald, Neil Walker — and I just feel like it’s a good group of guys, a young dynamic club and I feel like there’s a lot of potential. I think it’s going to be an exciting year for me so I’m really excited.

How has the perception of the team changed since you came into the league?
They’re more competitive. They’re a tougher team. I feel like they have more taklent and the team’s heading in the right direction right now. Looking at them from the outside over the last ciouple years, you can see the talent. I know I’ve seen the talent and I just feel like they’re a hair off and there’s just something missing. Hopefully I can fill that void and do my part, and lead the pitching staff like I know I can and I think we’re going to have a great year.

How much can controlling the running game lead to more victories for the team?
Well, that’s something that was talked about when I was on the phone with the guys, and really my biggest strength is my arm strength. I might not have the best throwing percentage in baseball, but not many people try to steal off my when I’m behind the plate. And if they do, it’s fun. That’s the fun part of the game for me. That’s my pride and joy.

Photo credit: Pittsburgh PiratesWhat do you know about the fanbase here in Pittsburgh from your days coming to PNC Park as a member of the Dodgers? What kind of place is this to play?
PNC is just a nice stadium, you know? As I’m standing out here right now it just has a good feel. It’s got a great playing surface and when it’s filled up, man, it’s a great place to play, no question.



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