Martin grimaced while swinging on his groundout to third in the first inning, and he initially went back out to catch the second inning. But after attempting a soft throw from home plate to second base on Marcus Stroman‘s final warmup pitch, Martin looked into the dugout, bringing out trainer George Poulis and manager John Gibbons, and exited the game.
“Russ is the rock,” Stroman said. “He’s the staple that’s always there. He plays through a bunch of bumps and bruises each and every day, and he’s the definition of a warrior.”
Earlier this season, Martin missed two weeks as he dealt with nerve irritation in his neck and left shoulder that caused weakness in the area.
Raffy Lopez took over behind the plate for Martin. With Kendrys Morales and Norichika Aoki both battling illnesses, leaving Darwin Barney as the Blue Jays’ only healthy position player on the bench for Friday’s game.
Lopez hadn’t discussed any sort of game plan with Stroman in the short time he’s been in Toronto, but the right-hander didn’t skip a beat after the change behind the plate. Stroman allowed just four hits and one walk over his eight innings — all four runs were unearned in the third — and was quick to praise Lopez’s ability to adapt on the fly.
“He did an unbelievable job,” Stroman said. “So hats off to him, for sure. It’s not easy to come into a game and catch someone that you’ve never caught in the big leagues, and he handled it with ease. So he was unbelievable all night.”
With Miguel Montero and Luke Maile both still on the disabled list, the Blue Jays would be forced to look to Triple-A Buffalo if Martin does need some time off. Mike Ohlman entered Friday with a .761 OPS and 12 home runs in Buffalo, and he spent some time with the Blue Jays in May. No. 18 prospect Danny Jansen was recently moved up to Triple-A and is enjoying a breakout season, but coming off his second promotion of the year, it’s unlikely he’d make another jump this soon.
Keegan Matheson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.