Love the dome open. The combination of having the roof open and people in the stands.”
Russell Martin eases back in the clubhouse barber’s chair, one of the benefits of his life as a Toronto Blue Jay. “That’s how baseball is meant to be played, in my opinion.”
Despite the perks, however, the lone Canadian on Sportsnet’s shortlist of the top 60 Blue Jays of all time doesn’t view his job as much different from those of the other 1,000-plus who punch a clock at the ballpark. And that shows in every interaction he has on and off the field.
Photographer Charlie Lindsay shadowed Martin during a day at the park in early July that resulted in a 7–4 win over the Astros. Afterwards, we showed back up with the photos and asked him to walk us through it.
What it all revealed is a player both businesslike in his approach and thoughtful about his routines.
“Normally I use the same bat, same weight, same length until it breaks. If ever I feel like things aren’t going my way I might change the brand, [laughs] but it will still be the same weight and length. Sometimes a little change can get your mind in a better spot.”
“I just want to hit the ball where it is pitched in batting practice. I want to let my eyes tell me where the ball needs to go. If everything is in sync then it’s perfect. If it’s not sometimes I force myself to work the ball inside out… It’s my rule of thumb: When in doubt, stay inside the baseball.”
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BULLPEN: 6:45 P.M.
“I’ve had times when guys were lights out in the bullpen and you go to the game and it doesn’t go their way. I’ve had times when guys are terrible in the bullpen, they can’t throw a strike and they put up eight scoreless.”
GAME ON: 7:07 P.M.
“I just try and be consistent as much as possible, but I try and be honest. If I’m frustrated I’m going to let my frustration out just like most people but I care about my teammates.
“I’ve always had the mentality of team first. I think that’s why I’ve been fortunate enough to be on a lot of teams that win. If everybody shares a common goal in winning before their personal performances it makes it easy to root for one another. That’s the concept of team. That’s the attitude that you have to have or else there is so much failure in baseball you just go crazy.”
“Helmet trying to get in the way. [laughs] I knew my helmet was coming off. By that time, I’ve already taken a mental picture of where the ball is going to be thrown. I could probably close my eyes and throw the ball where it needs to go.”
HOME RUN: 9:20 P.M.
“When you hit a no doubter that’s probably the ultimate feeling. Right there I hit one the other way, I had two strikes on me; I shortened my swing. I knew I hit the ball on the barrel but I wasn’t 100 per cent sure it was going to leave the yard. Just the feeling of being on time on a pitch and hitting the ball with the barrel is a pretty good feeling. Hitting the ball on the sweet spot, there is a sound that it makes, it’s a nice sound. The crack of the bat is almost like a hot knife through butter. It’s just smooth.”
“That’s the end of the day’s work. Tip of the cap to the fans because I appreciate them sticking around and then rest up for the next one. And be back in 11 hours to do it again.”
You Tell Us: Rank the 40 greatest Blue Jays of all time
After 40 seasons of Toronto Blue Jays baseball, how would you rank the team’s 40 greatest players?