When the Los Angeles Dodgers traded for Russell Martin, there were some discussions over the possibility he would at times fill in at various positions in the infield. While that may very well hold true, no one could have predicted what transpired Saturday night at Dodger Stadium.
As the Dodgers were slugging their way to another victory, the Arizona Diamondbacks sent catcher John Ryan Murphy to the mound. Murphy’s services were needed as a pitcher in part because of an 11-2 deficit for the Diamondbacks, but also the toll the 13-inning marathon took on their bullpen.
Murphy managed to work a scoreless seventh inning before allowing seven runs in the eighth. With the Dodgers facing a similar situation with their bullpen, manager Dave Roberts had Russell Martin pitch the ninth inning.
Martin recalled last pitching roughly 20 years ago but immediately jumped at the opportunity to take the mound for his MLB pitching debut, via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
“They just asked me if I had pitched before and I told them, ‘Yeah,’ and they asked if I wanted to and I said, ‘Absolutely,’” Martin said after adding to the organization’s relief depth. “The next thing you know, I was on the bump at Dodger Stadium. I didn’t have time to get nervous.
“Good WHIP, good ERA, good everything. I threw extra-BP speed and like a slurvy pitch, but I want to know what my spin rate is like. Everybody’s talking about spin rate and I want to know.”
Martin showed encouraging command good velocity for a position player — topping out just under 84 mph. He retired the side in order to wrap up the 18-5 victory in which the Dodgers hit four home runs.
With the relief appearance under his belt, Martin has now played all positions except center field and first base. He joined Kiké Hernandez (2018) as position players the Dodgers have asked to pitch, though Hernandez gave up a walk-off home run upon entering in the 16th inning.