Recovering Martin slides into cleanup spot for Wild Card Game

Recovering Martin slides into cleanup spot for Wild Card Game

PITTSBURGH -- With the PNC Park seats empty with anticipation and several hours still separating the Pirates from the start of the National League Wild Card Game against the Giants, Russell Martin dribbled a soccer ball around the warning track Wednesday afternoon.

It's something Martin has done often prior to games over the past four months. A soccer ball on a baseball field has become commonplace for the Pirates this season, but seeing the catcher kicking it was a good sign for manager Clint Hurdle.

"When he's in a very confident place, [he'll] take that soccer ball out there," Hurdle said. "We haven't seen that in 10 or 12 days. Where that goes, I don't know. But it was good to see him take it out there."

  Date   Result Highlights
  Oct. 1   SF 8, PIT 0 video

Martin has been dealing with a tight left hamstring in the last week, and he was held out of the lineup for the last two games of the regular season. Martin, 31, said he expected to play in the NL Wild Card Game during the Pirates' workout on Tuesday, and he's in Wednesday's lineup, batting fourth against Madison Bumgarner and the Giants.

"I think he was able to work through some things yesterday as he continued to go through the activation part, the throwing, the hitting," Hurdle said of Martin, who ended the regular season with a .290/.402/.430 slash line. "I think he felt more confident throughout the workout.

"I think by the end of the workout, he felt in a very good place."

Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.