Russell Martin to play shortstop in WBC

02/21/2013 4:21 PM ET
By Joe Auriemma

Russell Martin signed a two-year deal with the Pirates during the offseason.(AP)
Former New York Yankees and current Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Russell Martin is on the move again. Martin will be playing shortstop for Team Canada during the World Baseball Classic.

For the 30-year-old, this is a move he believes will help save his legs and knees for the tough rigors of catching a full baseball season. Martin, who started his career as a third baseman before being switched to catcher in the Minor Leagues, last started a game in the infield in 2008 at third base with the Dodgers.

"It's hilarious, the reactions I get," Martin said of the move. "Everybody's surprised because it's not something usual. I know myself. I know how I was brought up. It's like riding a bike. You've done it before."

The three-time All-Star has been taking grounders at Pirates camp to get himself ready and prepared, while also trying to learn and work with a new pitching staff for the season.

Orioles Minor League catcher Chris Robinson will likely take on the catching duties for Team Canada, while Martin plays shortstop. Martin certainly had a good leader to follow in his two seasons with the Yankees playing with one of the greatest shortstops to ever play the game in Derek Jeter. Martin also grew up idolizing Ozzie Smith.

"It's my most natural position," Martin said when the topic was first broached back in November. "It's a lot less dangerous than catcher. I block (pitcher) A.J. Burnett curveballs in the dirt. I get hit on the arm all the time. I take balls in the throat. I'm not scared of the baseball."

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