I didn’t really think much of it when the Yankees signed Russell Martin over the offseason. Sure, he was a 2-time All-Star with the Dodgers, but he had been plagued with injuries. I was annoyed that he was taking the spot on the roster that I felt belonged to Jesus Montero.

But after the first 9 games of the season, I’m so glad to have him.

To be honest, I didn’t have very high expectations for Martin. I knew he was coming off knee surgery, and I just didn’t expect him to be that great. On Opening Day, he convinced me otherwise, going 1-3, scoring 2 runs, and even stealing a base, while calling a good game in the Yankees 6-3 win.

So far this year, Martin is hitting at a clip of .300 with 3 HR, 8 RBI, and 2 stolen bases. I am just so astonished. I feel bad about judging him before seeing him play, because I was completely wrong. He is the best number-9 hole hitter in baseball. He’s got speed, he’s got power. He’s Russell The Hustle and Muscle Martin, and he is a beast.

Aside from his offense, Martin has contributed big time to the Yankees pitching. Joba Chamberlain, who so far is having a great season in the 7th inning spot, credits his current success to Russell Martin, expressing that Martin makes him feel confident and comfortable on the mound. Chamberlain is also using all of his pitches, and gives Martin credit for that as well.

My Dad says that Russell Martin reminds him of Thurman Munson: he’s gritty, hard-nosed, and plays solid fundamental baseball. That’s quite a compliment.

Martin said that he wants to play all 162 games. The way he’s playing now, I’d hate to see him sit out a game! Right now, this looks like one of the best signings made this offseason – a 1 year deal, just $4 million for this quality ballplayer.

And to think - he almost went to the Red Sox. That would have been tragic.

This article was originally written for Fan Huddle-New York at http://fanhuddlenewyork.com/2011/04/russell-the-hustle-and-muscle-martin/

by Virginia Califano

Questions? Comments? Contact Virginia at pinstripepartisan@fanvsfan.com