Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin recently sat down with Sportsnet’s Kristina Rutherford for an exclusive interview.
Here, in the second instalment of a three-part Q & A we’re featuring on Sportsnet.ca this week, the 32-year-old backstop talks about his love of pastries, the Jays’ eclectic pitching staff, and what he says when he visits the mound.
Click here to read Part 1. Part 3, in which Martin talks about what it’s like to pick off runners and explains the art of pitch-framing, runs Wed., Oct. 21.
Every time you join an MLB team, they make the playoffs your first year there. Why?
I like to think that I help, but really, so many factors come into play. I’m part of the equation. I’m definitely used to winning.
That must be nice.
Yeah. It’s what I’m used to doing. But you have to be on good teams. I understand how important the team is, and I think good teams feed off each other. When you feel that team-first chemistry, the need to play to win that day, not to play for yourself—I’ve felt that on all the teams I’ve played on that have had success.
You lived in Paris as a kid. I heard you ate a lot of pastries.
I heard you got pretty husky.
I did. Every day I’d walk to school, and there was a bakery right at the corner. You can’t just picture it; you need the smell—you go past this bakery, there’s no way you’re not stopping. I’d have a croissant before school, and I’d have a chocolate one after. Every day. I don’t know how many days are in the school year, but after 200-something croissants times two, the pounds add up a little bit.
How old were you?
I think I was 11 or 12. My dad wasn’t around [Martin was living with his mom], but he made me work it off during the summertime. I left like a stud athlete and I came back looking a little bit like Babe Ruth.
This is a very eclectic pitching staff. A 20-year-old, a 42-year-old, a knuckleballer. Have you ever worked with a staff this…
Diverse? No. Definitely not. And I like it. There’s a bunch of different personalities, a bunch of different pitching styles.
If a rookie like Roberto Osuna gives up a home run and a veteran like LaTroy Hawkins gives up a home run, I imagine you’d say different things to them.
Well, I’m probably not going to go see them after they give up a home run. The last thing they want is for me to go and talk to them. I can’t bring that home run back. We have pros on this team, and they understand what it means to compete. I don’t go out and babysit guys.
What do you say when you visit the mound?
Normally, it’s to find out why they’re changing the sign. We might talk a little bit of strategy, but I’m not going out there and giving super-crazy speeches. I’m not Kevin Costner going out there with this awesome saying or quote.
That would be pretty sweet, though.
I remember one time—I think it was the first game of my career—and Derek Lowe was pitching. He was kind of agitated, and he’s a super-energetic type of person. He couldn’t calm down. I think he gave up a couple of hits, but he was pitching a great game. In the seventh inning, I went and talked to him, and he was complaining about something, and he couldn’t get over it. And I’m like, “Dude, if you don’t calm down, I’m not leaving the mound.” He looked at me and he’s like, “It’s this rookie’s first game?” He was totally shocked. He went back on the mound, finished the inning. I didn’t think anything of it, but he talked to the media and he thought it was special. And I’m like, “Yeah, I did do that. That’s crazy!” I don’t know what got into me, but it worked. He needed that.