The physical penalties paid by the catcher, of course, are not often characterized by the spectacular violence of a wide receiver clotheslined by a safety. Neither are they frequently accompanied by the angry acoustics of a crunching hockey check into the boards.
The price paid, as much as anything, is one of plain, penetrating exhaustion, both mental and physical. It is about enduring a grinding, dirty routine, where, in St. Louis or Arlington, Tex., in August, a catcher can shed 10 pounds in a game. In 2007, when he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Martin started 143 games behind the plate.
Three times this season, Martin has caught at least six games in six days. From May 11 to 17, he caught seven consecutive games, and once, from June 5 to 13, he caught nine in a row.
“When you’re going through it, you don’t notice it,” Martin said of the grind. “It’s when you stop for a day or two and then the aches from the foul tips and the fatigue kind of bubble to the surface and you’re like ‘Whoa, did I get hit by a train?’
“Sometimes I’d rather just plow through and keep playing, just soldier on, because it almost feels harder when you’ve been off for a day and you come back.”
Worth your time.
[Photo Credit: Jyekn; Thomas Ferrara/Newsday]