Russell Martin Leaves Canada's WBC Team Because They Won't Let Him Play Shortstop

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Pirates backstop Russell Martin doesn't want to be a catcher. It's boring. You have to crouch all game. You never get to run around. You rarely get to throw the ball beyond returning it to the pitcher. Rather than getting to enjoy a sunny afternoon on the diamond, you have to spend every moment going I think we should throw this pitch.

Martin surely didn't want to catch for Team Canada, because for all the rah-rah about national pride, the World Baseball Classic is an exhibition that has less to do with his actual paying career than even spring training. So Martin, who was drafted as a third basemen, went to officials with a request: he'd like to play shortstop. They weren't thrilled. Martin withdrew from the WBC.

''It's a pretty simple reason,'' Martin said Sunday. ''The Pittsburgh Pirate organization wasn't comfortable (with) me going to play shortstop over there. I don't think the Team Canada organization was too comfortable with me going to play shortstop.''


He'll be replaced at catcher by career minor leaguer Chris Robinson, but some of his teammates don't sound happy. Justin Morneau intimated that it's kind of dick to leave the team less than two weeks before the first game, saying "I don't know what he was thinking."

That's not fair to Martin. For all we know, he spent weeks agonizing over this decision, weighing the pros and cons of giving up his knees for his country, and now he lies awake in the wee hours wondering if he made the right choice. Or maybe not.

''It wasn't that hard of a decision,'' Martin said. ''There's the feeling of I might be letting my teammates down, my Canadian teammates, but that's something that I'm sure I'll get over.''


Canada finds itself in a pool with the U.S. and Mexico, so none of this will matter. It's the perfect Canadian baseball scandal.

Martin won't play for Canada in WBC [AP]
Morneau baffled by Martin's Classic withdrawal []