04/29/2013 8:31 PM ET
Martin credits homework on Cards for recent surge
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- If National League Players of the Week had to give acceptance speeches, Russell Martin's might go like this:
"And, in closing, I'd like to thank the Cardinals batters for showing me how I can be better."
Martin concluded his award-winning week with a two-homer, 10-total bases game Sunday in St. Louis, which he said was aided by a little squat studying.
"I was checking out how they were setting up in the box and attacking the baseball," Martin said of his view of the Cards from behind the plate. "They had some pretty good approaches, and I felt they were staying on balls that normally are good pitches.
"I've never really done that before, taking something from the other team. But I tried something that I saw, and it worked for me."
So that was one odd aspect of Martin's first career weekly award. The other oddity is that two weeks ago, he was a .063 hitter, with two hits in 32 at-bats.
"That kind of a start, it's going to balance out somewhere," said Martin, believing he was helped out by the proverbial law of averages.
Martin actually has been torrid for a couple of weeks -- batting .409 in his last dozen games -- putting a rather positive spin on the Pirates' hustle to sign him away from the Yankees, a move that had been roundly criticized.
"This is why we got him. Why we were so aggressive to get him," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We talked a lot over the winter about how he can ramp up his offense."
The Yankees did not hide their displeasure over Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington swooping down for Martin while they were busy dealing with Robinson Cano and Andy Pettitte. Now Martin is the NL Player of the Week, and his replacement in the Bronx, Francisco Cervelli, recently suffered a fractured right hand.
However, get this: Entering Monday's games, Martin was batting .267 with five homers and nine RBIs -- and Cervelli and his replacement, Chris Stewart, were batting a combined .268 with four homers and nine RBIs.
Bucs support NBA player Collins coming out
MILWAUKEE -- Pirates players aware of the development -- and many in Miller Park's visiting clubhouse not yet were -- on Monday wholly supported NBA player Jason Collins' move to publicly come out as gay.
"I think it's great," said reliever Jared Hughes, who felt a similar revelation in baseball would be as tolerated. "He's being honest, being himself and he's an inspiration to the community. I think it's a really good thing."
"Honestly, and I can can only speak for myself personally, I would be totally comfortable and happy [if that happened]," Hughes added. "I can't speak for everybody, but I can speak for myself and say that would be a very good thing."
The 27-year-old Hughes is a relative new big leaguer, the 2012 season having been his first full season in the Majors. Brandon Inge, a 35-year-old veteran in his 13th big league season, had a comparable reaction.
"You have guys from different countries, different nationalities, different ethnicities. Not everyone is going to be the same," Inge said, "so why should we judge anyone for what their preference is, or what their likes and dislikes are?
"The way I look at it, everyone's equal, or at least it should be that way. If someone is not bothering you, then … and the same rules go for the clubhouse -- inside, we're all a family. If you have a child, you're still gonna love him, gay or not gay."
"People are going to be people, they can't change being who they are," Jason Grilli said. "If you can figure out a way to be a good player, and guys can accept that … I'm sure there have been plenty of [gay athletes] who just haven't come out. Maybe he's going to be the Pied Piper and more will come out now. Who knows?"
Inge sensed Collins will be the target of some scorn -- not necessarily from peers, but from segments of the public -- and noted, "Anyone makes fun of someone like that, they probably have some issues they have going on themselves. You've got to treat everyone the same. I do."
"Just from the basic [demographic] percentages … you know plenty of athletes are gay," Hughes said, "and the fact he's come out and is open with it is a great thing for the progress of the community."
Hurdle confirms Gomez will start finale vs. Crew
MILWAUKEE -- Confirming a move that had been anticipated, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has given Wednesday's starting assignment to Jeanmar Gomez.
Hurdle also revealed that the suspension appeal of the man whose place Gomez is taking, Jonathan Sanchez, will be heard via video conferencing on Friday. Sanchez has drawn a six-game suspension for hitting St. Louis' Allen Craig with a pitch Friday night. He will remain available out of the Bucs' bullpen until that process is completed.
The choice of Gomez to face the Brewers on Wednesday afternoon was an easy one for Hurdle. The Pirates did not seriously consider recalling Andrew Oliver or Gerrit Cole for the assignment.
"Both are showing good signs, but are still working on repeating their delivery and on their command," Hurdle said. "There'd be no benefit to calling someone up for one time, when we've got a guy in-house who has started in the past. It was the appropriate time to make that switch."
Gomez has made five sharp appearances in relief, posting an ERA of 2.63 in 13 2/3 innings. He worked 4 1/3 innings on Friday, after Sanchez was ejected before retiring a batter.
Gomez, a 25-year-old Venezuela native, made 38 starts for the Indians in 2010-12, averaging 5 1/3 innings in them. He has never faced Milwaukee.
• Travis Snider (right-side tightness) remained on the bench Monday, but he will have an early workout Tuesday; Hurdle wants to be able to return him to the lineup against Brewers righty Marco Estrada.
• Neil Walker (right-hand gash) threw the ball and swung the bat before Monday's game, testing his ability to at least come off the bench before the six stitches are removed from his index knuckle.
• Andrew McCutchen's .939 slugging percentage, four home runs and 10 RBIs were tops among all visiting players at Milwaukee's Miller Park last season. McCutchen also batted .455 here.
First number, last word
15: Extra-base hits between Michael McKenry and Martin entering Monday night's game, tops among all Major League catching combos.
"The sign of being a pro: Your results don't dictate the level of your confidence. It's hard, but that's what separates good players from great players."
-- Hurdle, on Martin's resolve in going from a 2-for-32 start to NL Player of the Week.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.