Cruz on DL, Cuban OF Martin called up by Rangers

BY foxsports • August 31, 2011

Cuban outfielder Leonys Martin joined the Texas Rangers on Tuesday, his promotion to the major leagues coming only a year and two days after he defected from his home country.

Texas recalled Martin from Triple-A Round Rock after placing right fielder Nelson Cruz on the 15-day disabled list.

''Of course, this is a great opportunity that the team has given me, but I feel sad about what happened with Nelson,'' Martin said through a translator before Tuesday night's game against Tampa Bay. ''I hope I can get a chance, the opportunity to play with the team. ... This is very quick for me, but I'm ready to work.''

It is the fifth time Cruz has been on the DL over two seasons, four of those stints for hamstring issues on both legs and the other because of a quadriceps strain.

Texas also placed right-hander Darren O'Day on the DL, retroactive to Thursday, with right shoulder inflammation. The Rangers purchased the contract of right-hander Mark Hamburger from Round Rock and released right-hander Ryan Tucker.

Martin signed a $15.5 million, five-year contract with the Rangers in May that included a $5 million signing bonus and a $500,000 salary this year. It was one of the largest-ever contracts for a Cuban defector, surpassed by the $32 million, four-year deal Jose Contreras signed with the New York Yankees in 2003 and the $30.25 million, six-year deal hard-throwing left-hander Aroldis Chapman got from Cincinnati in January 2010.

After going to the team's extended spring training in Arizona, Martin went to Double-A Frisco and Round Rock. He hit .295 with 16 doubles, five triples, four home runs and 42 RBIs in 73 combined games. This is the first professional season for the speedy 23-year-old outfielder.

''We'll bring him up here and he can continue to figure out what his talent is all about,'' manager Ron Washington said. ''There will be some opportunities as we move forward. Where they're going to come and when they're going to come, I have no idea yet.''

David Murphy started in right field in the opener of the series against the Rays.

Martin defected after playing for Cuba's national team in Japan at the FISU World University Championships in July and August, 2010. He hit .450 (9 for 20) with two doubles, 14 runs and eight walks in that tournament, and had been a part-time player for Cuba in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

In 82 games last season for Villa Clara in the Cuban League, Martin hit .326 with 23 doubles, 10 home runs and 48 RBIs. He hit .314 over the past five seasons.

Martin spent two days in late July with the big-league club, working with coach Gary Pettis on baserunning and outfield play.

''There's some things he still has to work on. This gives Gary a chance now to stay busy,'' Washington said. ''He's a kid that's interested in learning. ... We'll put him in an environment here where he can go out there and not worry about failing, just go play baseball.''

Washington said he could use Martin as a pinch-runner or defensive replacement, and will look for the right opportunities to get him some at-bats.

Hamburger, also looking to make his major league debut, will provide depth in the bullpen. Long reliever Scott Feldman made a spot start Tuesday night.

In 42 games for Frisco and Round Rock this season, Hamburger was 8-4 with a 3.39 ERA. In his last 11 appearances for Round Rock, he had an 0.94 ERA with 22 strikeouts, five walks and a .176 opponent batting average.



share story