DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP) Russell Martin received a warm welcome from his new teammates and coaches upon his arrival at the Toronto Blue Jays’ spring training complex.
Not everyone inside the clubhouse, though, was elated when the Blue Jays signed the three-time All-Star catcher in November.
Catcher Dioner Navarro acknowledged Monday he requested a trade shortly after the team signed Martin to a five-year, $82 million deal in November and said he has not budged from that stance.
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”I asked for a trade right away and up to today, that’s still my goal,” Navarro said. ”I would like to go to a place where I can play every day because I already know I can do it.”
Navarro is owed $5 million of the $8 million, two-year contract he signed with the club last winter. He pointed to his performance last season as a reason he doesn’t deserve to be relegated to a backup role.
After bouncing between Triple-A and the majors with the Dodgers, Reds and Cubs from 2011-13, the 31-year-old Navarro enjoyed a breakout year with the Blue Jays, batting .274 with 12 home runs and 69 RBIs in a career-high 139 games.
”I think I put myself in a really good position last year,” Navarro said. ”I expressed throughout the whole year last year how grateful I was with the Blue Jays for giving me the opportunity, and I don’t know where or if anything did go wrong.”
Martin, who joins the Blue Jays after two seasons with Pittsburgh, said the situation won’t become a distraction. During warmups before the team’s two-hour workout session, he and Navarro partnered for a long-toss drill.
”If he can be in a gig where he can catch every day, I’m sure he’d prefer that. But that’s something that’s out of his control for now,” Martin said. ”One thing he can control is his attitude and – so far – it’s been fantastic, and hasn’t made me feel weird at all.”
If the team cannot find a suitor for Navarro by opening day, manager John Gibbons said the 2008 All-Star will be mainly used as its designated hitter with ”a little catching” on the side.
”I can’t blame him for not being happy,” Gibbons said. ”He’s a competitor. He’s a big league player – a good one. But we made a decision to bring Russell in and he’s going to give us a big, big boost. But there’s a place for (Navarro). He can really help us.”
NOTES: RHP Brett Cecil, a candidate for the closer role, was the only pitcher not with the team for the first day of workouts because of an illness. … Gibbons said slugger Edwin Encarnacion is penciled in as the team’s first baseman going into camp. INFs Justin Smoak, Danny Valencia, non-roster invitee Daric Barton and Navarro will split time at DH. … Smoak, who signed a one-year, $1 million contract as a free agent in December, joined the team for workouts four days ahead of schedule. Position players report Friday.