It appears Russell Martin wasn’t going to wait any longer. The New York Yankees all of a sudden have become budget-conscious for 2014 and weren’t ready to commit the amount of money that Martin had envisioned. He’s now headed to Pittsburgh.
The Pirates’ newest addition inked a two-year contract worth $17 million. Martin tells us why, in the following interview, that he left an organization that has won a record 27 World Series titles to an organization that has endured a record 20 consecutive losing seasons after finishing 79-83 last season.
Russell Martin joined 93.7 The FAN in Pittsburgh with Seibel, Starkey and Miller to discuss his decision to sign with the Pittsburgh Pirates, being in the prime of his career physically, reuniting with A.J. Burnett in Pittsburgh, why he’s convinced the small-market Pirates are committed to winning and playing for Clint Hurdle.
Why did you settle on the Pittsburgh Pirates?
“Well, for a couple of reasons. I believe in the direction the team is going right now. The young kids that are there, I think have a lot of talent and a lot of promise. I feel like I am just a good fit. It’s been a while since Pittsburgh has had a backstop that I think I am. Hopefully I can help the pitching staff and lead them to be better and hopefully get to that promised land that Pittsburgh has been trying to get to for the last couple of years.”
Would you say you are in your prime right now?
“Physically? Absolutely man. I feel great. I’m excited. I don’t really know what else to say except that I am excited … I am actually in Pittsburgh right now. I just got done with all of our stuff going on at the field and my physical. I am happy about that. Now it’s all about baseball.”
What’s your reputation as a player and do you look forward to catching A.J. Burnett again?
“Absolutely. I love A.J. Burnett. I love the energy he brings on the mound, his mentality. No doubt he throws his heart out there. He puts it on the line every time he goes out there and that’s the kind of guy that I am. I’m a hard-nosed player. I’m going to play every inning. Every game that I play you are going to get my best, and I think that everybody shares that opinion of me that I am a hard worker. And I’ve always been on winning teams and I am expecting to do the same this year.”
You’ve played for big-markets teams like the Dodgers and Yankees. What has you convinced, financially, that the small-market Pirates are committed to winning?
“They showed signs of greatness last year and they fell off a little bit late, but overall the core group that’s there, there’s a lot of talent, and I just truly believe that I can really help this team out. And for me, I feel like I can be a difference-maker on this team, so that’s one of the reasons, but I just believe in the young guys. I don’t know the whole pitching staff, but for the most part I think we got a solid three at the top. The bullpen I don’t know as well, but I am going to make sure I do all my video homework and stuff like that. My goal is to make the pitching staff reach their full potential.”
How much of this equation was Clint Hurdle for you?
“Clint Hurdle has always been a guy that I have held at a high standard because of the guy he is. He’s the guy who commands respect, and you’ve seen him, and he’s just a guy that comes off and he’s genuine. He’s not going to beat around the bush. He’s going to be honest with you and I just like his character, and I feel like both of our attitudes are going to blend well and we are going to work on that as we go along.”