DUNEDIN, Fla. – Russell Martin will join Canada at the World Baseball Classic after all, only as a support in the dugout and not as a player.
The Toronto Blue Jays catcher said in an interview Sunday he’d secured permission from all parties involved to join the national team for the first round of the tournament March 9-12 in Miami. Insurance issues prevented him from playing shortstop for the Canadians but attending to provide his in-game insights offers him a consolation.
“I feel that way about it, Greg Hamilton (Baseball Canada’s director of national teams) seemed like he was pretty happy,” said Martin. “Obviously they would have been happier if I was there to play, but under the circumstances, it’s the second best thing.
“I’m going there to encourage and hopefully see us play good baseball and win.”
Martin’s dedication is sure to resonate with the close-knit Canadian squad, which has been hit hard by the losses of several top players. To advance to the second round for the first time ever at the Classic, Canada will need to finish in the top two of a group that also includes the United States, the Dominican Republic and Colombia.
While with the national team, Martin will be able to catch bullpens and workout with the club. He hopes to help Canada move on before returning to the Blue Jays either way after the first round having made some sort of contribution.
“I like the guys, I like my teammates that are there, I like the coaches,” said Martin. “I grew up with the people in the program. It’s like (the) circle of life. Your parents take care of you as a baby and they’re going to get older one day and you’re going to take care of them. It’s that natural give and take.”