Russell Martin open to position change in World Baseball Classic and beyond

Not all World Baseball Classic teams are created equal, which means several will have to be creative when putting together their final rosters and filling in their lineup cards come tournament time in March.

Among those squads scrambling for solutions will be our friendly neighbors to the north, Team Canada, who will not have a major league caliber player available to them at the very critical shortstop position.

They will, however, have two major league catchers on their roster in Russell Martin and George Kottaras, and on Saturday we learned that Martin is very much open to the idea of Kottaras handing the catching duties while he makes the move to shortstop to help fill the void.

From the New York Times:

Martin, a Canadian citizen, told Greg Hamilton, the Baseball Canada head coach and director of the national teams, that he wants to play shortstop in the W.B.C. Hamilton was receptive to the idea.

"If it's something that would help the team, I am willing to do it," Martin said Saturday in a telephone interview from Montreal. "I told Greg I want to do it, and he said he's open to it."

Of course we have seen Martin make an appearance at second base (with the Yankees in 2011) and several at third base (75 1/3 career innings) when the circumstances dictated so in the past, but he's never played a single out at shortstop in professional ball. Despite that fact, Martin claims it's his most natural position based on his time there in high school and while playing for Canadian national teams in the past.

Martin's desire to play another position could also be a sign of things to come in his big league career if all goes according to plan. But the unsigned free agent understands that possibility will ultimately be determined by his ability to build off or maintain his career-high 21 home runs in 2012 while bringing up his career-low .211 batting average.

"Over the course of this next contract, it's all about getting my offense up," he said. "If I can do that, it will open up the possibilities for me to play other positions."

And if you're wondering why Martin is suddenly so interested in pursuing opportunities at other positions, such as shortstop, entering his age 30 season, his answer is pretty simple.

"It's a lot less dangerous than catcher."

You can't put a price tag on good health, but you certainly can put one on longevity in Major League Baseball.

Big BLS H/N: Eye on Baseball

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