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Martin's WBC decision a letdown to Team Canada

The SportsXchange

The idea seemed rather preposterous at first blush and now it won't happen. Russell Martin will not be playing shortstop for Canada in the World Baseball Classic.

In fact, the Pirates' catcher has decided to skip the WBC.

Martin agreed to play for Canada because manager Ernie Whitt was going to allow him the chance to play some shortstop. Martin hasn't played the position since he was in high school in Montreal but he has seen limited at third base and second base in the major leagues.

However, things changed when Martin said he wanted to play only shortstop in the WBC. Team Canada expected him to play one game at shortstop and otherwise be their primary catcher.

"Basically, the only one who believed I could play shortstop was me," Martin said. "The Pirates weren't comfortable with it and I don't think Team Canada was comfortable with it."

While the Pirates never said anything publicly, they were not thrilled that Martin was thinking about playing out of position in the WBC after they signed him to a two-year, $17-million contract as a free agent in November. They were about the injury and also preferred he stay in their spring training camp to better learn a new pitching staff.

"I'm going to feel better being here and catching my guys," Martin said. "Of course, there is the feeling that I might be letting down my Canadian teammates."

Some of the Team Canada members were indeed upset by Martin's decision to pull out, including Minnesota first baseman Justin Morneau.

"I guess he's made the choice he felt was best for him," Morneau told USA Today. "It's hard to see guys turn it down. That wouldn't be my choice. But when we get there, we'll get there with somebody who wants to be there and is capable of playing shortstop."
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