Toronto Blue Jays: It’s Time to Rest Russell Martin


Russell Martin has been playing through a leg injury for the Toronto Blue Jays

The Toronto Blue Jays acquired Russell Martin for the strength of his bat, the steadiness of his glove and the leadership qualities he brings to a team.

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For the most part, it’s been a successful debut in Toronto for Martin. The fans love him; his teammates respect him; and the pitching staff has reached a whole new level of success under his guidance in the second half of the season. There’s only one problem: he’s playing through an injury.

Martin has been dealing with a leg injury over the past few weeks – the same type of injury that knocked him out of the Pittsburgh Pirates lineup for part of the season last year – and it’s affecting his game.

Jul 28, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin (55) talks to Toronto Blue jays relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins (32) during the sixth inning in a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Rogers Centre. The Philadelphia Phillies won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

On defence and in calling games, Martin remains the Jays’ best option behind the game, but his offence has taken a notable hit over the past few weeks. He’s put up a slash line of .150/.239/.217 over his past 16 games, which compares poorly to his season numbers of .244/.327/.434. The nagging injury is especially evident as you watch him stagger down the first base line.

Toronto has given Martin some rest in recent days – Josh Thole started in Sunday’s series finale against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Dioner Navarro has appeared in two of the last four games – but I’m talking about an extended rest here. If the Jays want to utilize Martin in the post-season where he can arguably benefit the team the greatest, they should take his current health issues seriously.

Following their current series against the Texas Rangers (64-60), the Jays host the Detroit Tigers (59-66) and Cleveland Indians (59-66) before the Baltimore Orioles (62-63) come to town for a pivotal three-game series. The Jays would be well advised to rest Martin during the Indian and Tiger series, giving him time to recover for the more meaningful matchups down the stretch and into the post-season.

Aug 9, 2015; Bronx, NY, USA; Toronto Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro (30) fields a bunt by New York Yankees second baseman Stephen Drew (not pictured) during the third inning of the game at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

In Navarro, the Jays have a reliable backup catcher who’s capable of assuming a heavy workload as evidenced last season. He’s hitting .221/.284/.328 on the current season so the Jays might even gain a little extra offence with his presence in the lineup. Martin is the better option on defence, but Navarro isn’t exactly an albatross in this department and he can call a good game as shown in the case of Mark Buehrle.

Given the post-season aspirations of the Jays and Martin’s importance to the team, I think it only makes sense to rest him for an extended period. The Jays might not get another chance to rest him down the stretch.

What are your thoughts? Should the Jays rest Martin or continue to roll with him? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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