The Texas Rangers just might need to become the first team in major league history (probably) to add a voice coach to their staff. The high-pitched tones of center fielder Leonys Martin make it hard for him to be heard by other players on defense — no, really — and confusion sometimes results.
Take what happened Monday night at Globe Life Park, when infielder Rougned Odor impressively raced into medium center field on a blooper by Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros. Martin appeared to be playing relatively deep and had to run a long way, himself, just to get into position, when Odor came streaking into his path to make a fine leaping catch.
Replays appeared to show that Martin could have gotten there if needed, but Odor's instincts told him to run out there anyway. Martin did not appear to be calling him off, but even if he did — would Odor have heard him?
Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram covers the Rangers every day and says, maybe not:
Does he really have that much of a strange voice, though? A high-pitched voice sounds like the oddest athlete disability ever. Vinny Testaverde was color blind. Jim Abbott pitched in the majors with one fully functional hand. Casey Martin needed a golf cart back in the day. Does Martin need a duck call? Let's listen to the player himself (albeit in Spanish):
A sweeter voice you won't find, but you can see (or hear) how it might be a problem in a loud big league ballpark. Martin's voice definitely has been an area of concern with the team, as this post by ESPN's Richard Durrett showed in April:
"We're trying to work with Leonys on getting some bass in his voice," manager Ron Washington joked Thursday morning. "Then [Shin-Soo] Choo would have heard him. It's just communication, that's all."
Martin and Choo came in to field a fly ball off the bat of Mike Zunino in the fourth inning and bumped into each other. The ball glanced off Martin's glove, but neither player was given an error. It was scored as a hit.
"He said he was calling it the whole way, but he was at a tenor voice and it was mixing in with the crowd," Washington said. "We've got a speech coach we're bringing in to help him get some bass in his voice."
Tenor?! More like soprano! Washington was kidding, or the indication is he was kidding, and a source tells The Stew that the Rangers never did actually commit to a voice coach. But should the Rangers really get someone to work on Martin's voice with him?
"From the diaphragm, now!"
"I GOT IT."
What if Martin's voice comes out like this after coaching:
The other Rangers in the outfield (along with Odor and Elvis Andrus at shortstop) should be able to hear when Michael Jackson is calling for the ball, right?
You can be a great athlete and have a high-pitched voice. The first one who comes to mind is Walter Payton. He even had to bark signals as a quarterback from time to time with the Chicago Bears, but he found the right pitch to make it work. Martin can do it, too.
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