Russell Martin in No. 2 hole?


 * Manager John Gibbons forecasts new C Russell Martin (Montreal, Que.) as the Blue Jays No. 2 hitter come opening day at Yankee Stadium. ….

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Letters of Intent

By Bob Elliott

SAN DIEGO _ Blue Jays manager John Gibbons sees new catcher Russell Martin as an ideal No. 2 hitter.

The problem with that in other stops, when Martin hit second he thought that there was a need to steal bases. Adding the pounding of stealing bases to the work load of catching can lead to injuries. Is that a risk that the Jays should take?

“One thing about Russell he’s a complete player, he’s real good behind the plate and can really handle the bat,” Gibbons told reporters. “It might be an ideal spot. We haven’t figured that out yet. You look at our lineup, it’s pretty strong.”

Besides Martin the Jays have added a middle of the order bat in Josh Donaldson.

“Everything we’ve heard about them, they’re both gamers, great competitors. That will definitely help,” Gibbons said about the winds of change blowing through the clubhouse. “I don’t think the clubhouse was what cost us the last couple of years. We just didn’t play well enough.

“You get some guys that have been proven winners, who have been to the postseason of the you add that can only help you. Anytime you can sign a couple of all‑star caliber players, you’ve got to do it.”

How do you spell relief: If not Kansas City Royals reliever Greg Holland to solve the Jays closing vacancy then who?

If Holland proves to be too expensive — in players — the Jays are looking at free-agent relievers Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshak.

Gregerson, 30, was 5-5 with a 2.12 ERA and three saves in 72 games with the Oakland A’s last year. He walked 15 and struck out 59 in 72 1/3 innings. He’s pitched six years in the majors, the first five with the San Diego Padres.

Neshak, 33, was 7-2 with a 1.87 ERA in six saves in 10 chances in 71 games with the St. Louis Cardinals. Neshak walked nine and struck out 68 in 67 1/3 innings.

Talking: Earlier this off season the Jays talked trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks asking about right-hander Wade Miley and outfielder Mark Trumbo. The Jays wanted Miley (8-12, 4.34 in 33 starts, 201 1/3 innings) as an upgrade for their rotation. They wanted Trumbo (.235 average, 14 homers, 61 RBIs) to flip to Seattle to acquire Michael Saunders. Arizona wanted young pitching in return.

Claimed: The Jays picked up right-handed hitting Chris Colabello, 30, on waivers from the Minnesota Twins. He hit .229 with six homers and 39 RBIs in 59 games. The former Indy league legend has options remaining and is likely headed for triple-A Buffalo.

So near and yet so far: Dick Allen and Tony Oliva each fell one vote short of the required 12 votes from the 16-man Hall of Fame’s Golden Era (1947-1972) committee. Jim Kaat had 10 votes, Maury Wills nine and Minnie Minoso eight.

“Each player, his career and his statistics were discussed in detail in similar fashion,” said Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins, who was on the committee. Jenkins was a teammate of Allen’s at Class-A Williamsport in 1962 and the next year at double-A Arkansas in the Philadelphia Phillies system.

“The next year he was the National League rookie of the year,” said Jenkins. “Tony won the rookie of the year too … and three batting titles.”

Ken Boyer, Billy Pierce, Luis Tiant, Gil Hodges and Bob Howsam each received three or fewer votes.

“The board never takes for granted that our procedures are perfect going forward in the future,” said Jane Forbes Clark. “We are always looking, always trying to make it better, and to uphold the standard of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and the difficulty of election.

“I don’t need to remind anyone that only 1% of all men to have ever played are in Cooperstown. So we have a very high standard, and we are determined to keep it.”

The 16-man committee consisted of Hall of Famers: ex-Jays GM Pat Gillick, now Philadelphia Phillies interim president, Jim Bunning, Rod Carew, Al Kaline, Joe Morgan, Ozzie Smith, Don Sutton and Jenkins, along with executives Jim Frey, David Glass, Roland Hemond and Bob Watson plus veteran media members Steve Hirdt, Dick Kaegel, Phil Pepe and Tracy Ringolsby.

Hobbling: Milwaukee Brewers general manager Doug Melvin is on crutches after breaking his ankle. Melvin and the rest of the Brewers from the front office were headed to home plate to shoot an “ugly Christmas sweater” for a holiday card for season’s ticket holders at Miller Park. The roof had been open and exposed to the elements. Melvin stepped on some ice and fell. He is restricted to his suite.

Scott Harrigan
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