|photo by Grant Jefferies|
"You guys don't want to talk to me," he said with a knowing smile, "do you?"
They did, and with good reason. The Pirates catcher was ejected by home plate umpire Chad Fairchild during the first inning of Sunday's game against the Baltimore Orioles.
Ejections are expected during the regular season, when every pitch means something.
But during the last week of the Grapefruit League schedule, when everyone's supposed to be laid back and in a good mood?
Not so much.
Martin said the matter went beyond disagreeing with Fairchild's strike zone.
"I don't expect anybody to be perfect," Martin said. "But just when you try to communicate, whether it's with a co-worker or anything, there should be a certain respect and rapport where you can actually communicate. And I felt it just wasn't there today between myself and the umpire. He's a good guy. I know he is. In the heat of the moment, I probably let my emotions get the best of me. And I'm sure he did, too."
It came during a bizarre first inning, during which the Orioles scored eight runs off Pirates pitcher Chris Leroux, who was a last-minute replacement after scheduled starter Jeff Karstens experienced discomfort in his right shoulder.
"My pitcher was out there working hard, and that's it. I'm always going to have my pitcher's back," Martin said. "It was nothing personal toward Chad. It was just the situation."
Timing played a factor: The Pirates open the regular season April 1, and Martin is treating the last few exhibition games as real ones.
"I enjoy being out there and competing. People are like, 'How can you get thrown out of a spring training game?' I'm treating it like a regular-season game," he said. "I feel like I picked up my intensity quite a bit, and I feel like that's preparation toward getting ready for the real deal."
Martin's passion wasn't lost on Leroux, who lasted just one-third of an inning.
"I'm just glad the he kind of had my back. I'm obviously not going to run up to an umpire and get into his face and yell at him," he said. "I'm just glad (Martin) noticed the same things that I noticed."
With regular back up Michael McKenry serving as the designated hitter, Lucas May took over behind the plate following Martin's ejection.
"I've been having solid contact. I feel aggressive, and that's huge for me," said Martin, who is just 3 for 30 this spring. "When I know I'm in the plate, and I want to swing and not be passive, that's when I know I'm in the spot where I need to be and want to be."