Blue Jays’ Russell Martin leaves game vs. Pirates with left oblique strain

Toronto Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin (55) connects for a double during seventh inning interleague baseball action against the Milwaukee Brewers, in Toronto, Wednesday, April 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

TORONTO – Marcus Stroman knew in the dugout that Russell Martin hurt himself during his at-bat in the first inning Friday night so he wasn’t surprised to see his catcher walk off the field during warm-ups for the top of the second.

“He gave it a go and he just couldn’t do it,” said the right-hander. “Prayers for a speedy recovery for Russ.”

The Toronto Blue Jays as a whole shared a similar sentiment after Martin left Friday night’s 4-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates with a left oblique strain. Manager John Gibbons said he’s due for an MRI on Saturday at which point the team will know more about the extent of the injury, although oblique issues are rarely resolved quickly.

As Gibbons himself noted, “Those are never good.”

“That would be a huge loss, no doubt about it,” he continued. “He’s our anchor back there.”

Martin appeared to hurt himself hitting a groundout in the first, gingerly leaving the batter’s box and running uncomfortably to first base. At inning’s end, he caught several pitches from Stroman, made a throw to second base, shook his head and then walked off the field, where he was met by trainer George Poulis.

Raffy Lopez came in to replace him behind the plate.

Martin’s injury leaves the Blue Jays in awkward spot for Saturday, especially since Miguel Montero isn’t eligible for activation from the disabled list until Sunday. They have no other healthy catchers on the 40-man roster – Luke Maile is also on the DL – meaning lots of transactional acrobatics will be needed with Saturday starter Chris Rowley needing a spot on the 40-man roster, as well.

Reliever Chris Smith is expected to be optioned to triple-A Buffalo to make room for Rowley, while Mike Ohlman would be the catcher selected if Martin hits the disabled list as expected. Martin spent time on the DL earlier this season with a nerve issue in his shoulder and neck.

“Russ is the rock, know what I mean?” said Stroman. “He’s the staple that’s always there. He plays through a bunch of bumps and bruises every day, he’s the definition of a warrior, he’s out there each and every day, no matter what. It had to be pretty bad of Russ pulls himself out of a game.”