In any World Series, the focus is, of course, on the stars. The 2016 edition of the Fall Classic is no different, with potential MVP candidate Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo in the Chicago Cubs’ dugout, and star-on-the-rise Francisco Lindor and Corey Kluber leading the Cleveland Indians.
Like many other World Series, however, it often comes down to the bit players and the plays they make when they get a chance to shine. Game 3 provided exactly that, with journeyman Michael Martinez scoring the lone run in a 1-0 Cleveland win.
Many fans may not have known “Mini Mart” before he was asked to pinch run on Friday night, but he’s been around Major League Baseball since 2006. Like, around. He was drafted by the Washington Nationals, then bounced around between six minor league clubs before 2009, when the Phillies selected him in the Rule 5 draft.
Between making the Phillies’ Opening Day roster in 2009 and the beginning of 2016, Martinez toured a couple more minor farm clubs and also played for the Pittsburgh Pirates at the Major League level.
Martinez signed with the Indians in 2015 but his travels weren’t over. Cleveland traded Martinez to the Boston Red Sox on July 8 of this season, only to reacquire him when the Red Sox designated him for assignment on August 2.
Martinez defines utility player, having manned second base, shortstop, all three outfield positions and third base during his various stops in MLB.
Martinez has never amassed the big statistical numbers that come with baseball stardom, but on Friday night, he amassed the only number that counted, the lone run in a 1-0 win for Cleveland. He’s been a big part of the club in other ways, as well.
Martinez has also helped mentor some of the Tribe’s younger players, including superstar-in-the-making Francisco Lindor.
“He’s a good team player,” says Lindor of his teammate. “He knows things, he’s been around.”
Martinez also leads the way for younger players by the way he approaches the game.
“Working,” is the key, according to Martinez. “I have to keep working, the same routine everyday. Go to the cage, use the machine, and get ready.”
Toiling in the figurative shadows, Martinez had spent a career getting ready for Friday night. With his pinch-running appearance, he created his own payoff on all his hard work.