Blis­ter com­pli­cates An­der­son’s ef­forts

The Beacon Herald - - SPORTS - ROB LON­G­LEY POST­MEDIA NET­WORK PHOTO

MIN­NEAPO­LIS — What does game 147 of his first lost sea­son as a Blue Jay mean to Rus­sell Martin?

Well, for starters, the com­peti­tor in the vet­eran catcher knows his team can do some dam­age to the Twins wild­card play­off hopes over a four-game se­ries that be­gan here on Thurs­day night.

Then­thereis­thein­jec­tionofen­thu­si­asm pro­vided by the Septem­ber call ups, who have brought some fresh­ness and suc­cess to the Jays over the past cou­ple of weeks.

But most of all, Martin wants to fin­ish 2017 with­out pain and mis­ery. Phys­i­cally re­cov­ered from an oblique strain that kept him out of 30 games, the re­main­ing dates on the sched­ule of­fer a chance to gather some pos­i­tive vibes.

“My goal was just to get back and get healthy,” said Martin, who re­turned to the Jays lineup on Wed­nes­day in Toronto and is with the team here in the Twin Cities. “It’s part of be­ing pro­fes­sional.

“That’s one of the goals. But also to win as many games as we can from here on out and see what th­ese young play­ers can do. At the same time, on a per­sonal level I want to play well and feel good go­ing onto the off sea­son.

“You want to feel en­thused, even when things haven’t gone so well.”

The oblique in­jury was dou­bly frus­trat­ing for Martin, who hadn’t suf­fered any­thing like it in his 12-year ma­jor league ca­reer. He first no­ticed it in bat­ting prac­tice of an Aug. 11 game against the Pi­rates and then with one swing of the bat — boom, he was off to the DL.

Martin was given the night off for Thurs­day’s opener, af­ter get­ting the start on Wed­nes­day back home against the Ori­oles. Man­ager John Gib­bons said he ex­pects his vet­eran to be be­hind the plate to catch J.A. Happ on Fri­day and Marco Estrada on Satur­day. It’s cer­tainly a dif­fer­ent Septem­ber for the Cana­di­an­born Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Brett An­der­son throws against the Min­nesota Twins in the first in­ning of a base­ball game on Thurs­day in Min­neapo­lis.

catcher, who in his two pre­vi­ous sea­sons with the Jays was gear­ing up for a play­off push in Septem­ber, a per­fect out­let for his proven com­pet­i­tive­ness. Play­ing out the string is some­thing he’ll bat­tle to avoid.

Is the fail­ure of a sea­son that never gath­ered any mean­ing­ful pos­i­tive mo­men­tum frus­trat­ing? As it is with the vet­eran con­stituency of a club­house that is be­ing de­nied a third con­sec­u­tive play­off berth, of course it is for Martin as well. While there are plenty of rea­sons for the Jays in­abil­ity to climb out of the AL East base­ment for even a sin­gle game of the sea­son, Mart­in­pointstoon­eareathathas­been a con­sis­tent area of in­ep­ti­tude.

“If I could think of one thing, it’s how we’ve col­lec­tively hit with guys in scor­ing po­si­tion,” Martin said. “We had a down year. Try­ing to find a rea­son for it though, it’s tough. I think we can do a much bet­ter job hit­ting with guys in scor­ing po­si­tion than we have this sea­son.”

The easy road to go down is by an­a­lyz­ing the Jays sea­son-long in­jury ward. Don’t go there, Martin ad­vises.

“It’s been tough, but ev­ery team goes through in­juries,” Martin said. “It’s not an ex­cuse. The com­mon thing is to go out there and keep play­ing, put the teem first and never lose sight of that.”

Both the Strat­ford Cen­tral Rams and North­west­ern Huskies started the boys high school base­ball sea­son with a pair of wins. Cen­tral de­feated St. Anne’s 10-6 as Sam Near struck out nine over four in­nings. An­drew Bar­ber pitched well in re­lief and added two sin­gles on of­fence. In the sec­ond game, Cameron Lynn pitch a com­plete game and struck out five as the Rams beat Cen­tral Huron 7-0. Car­son Te­o­lis hit two sin­gles, and Ethan Zehr added a two-run dou­ble. The de­fend­ing cham­pion Huskies de­feated Goderich and St. Marys. In the first game, Reilly De­line pitched a com­plete game as North­west­ern beat Goderich 9-1. Ri­ley Sykes went 3-for-4 at the plate. De­line and Jor­dan Tess­mer both hit dou­bles and scored two runs. In the sec­ond game, Jake Ford picked up the win as the Huskies de­feated St. Marys 16-4. Max Hall, Tess­mer and De­line all went 2-for-3 with Tess­mer lin­ing a triple to the right-field fence to clear the bases. The Huskies’ next game is next Wed­nes­day at SERC when they host St. Mike’s and Cen­tral.

JIM MONE/AP

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