Russell Martin speaking French is charming. It just is. The charm is amplified when he's happy. The man was just tickled this weekend.
The hometown boy had a ten minute press conference with Quebec media on Friday, the video of which you can see here.
(Enjoy also the French Canadian versions of the same commercials you see in the rest of Canada. Quebecois bros talk about trucks, too. And people obsessing about their laundry detergent is universal.)
What doesn't require much translation is how excited and how happy Martin is to be playing in Montreal again and how excited he is to start the season. It’s all over his face. Martin didn’t say anything revolutionary but he made up for it with enthusiasm.
Both Leblanc and Benoît Rioux for TVA Sports wrote about the highlights of the press conference, which I will translate.
On the slightly awkward scheduling of this event
The team went from Florida to Montreal and have to return to Florida to play Tampa on Opening Day. That game starts at 4 p.m., because ESPN is airing it.
It’s true that the schedule isn’t favourable this year, but I can assure you that the guys like Montreal a lot and are excited to be here and to play before crowds of 50 000.
"La Foule" is also a great song by Edith Piaf.
On the loss of David Price
It’s true we lost one of the best pitchers in baseball with Price, but I think there is more depth in our staff to start the season this year over 2015. Either way, Price wasn’t with the team to start the season.
On the Jays at the start of 2015 versus the Jays at the start of 2016
In my eyes, it’s not so complex, we went out and got David Price in the middle of the season so he didn’t start the season with us. I think the depth (on this team) is better, it’s more complete and the kids have more experience.
The mood in camp was different this year. We want to finish what we started last year.”
We know teams are going to come after us, but I find that our bullpen is more solid and we have enough offense for two teams.
The key is to stay healthy because, once again, the AL East is strong.
About the Kids
This season, we can count on the great Marcus Stroman from the start. Our young pitchers acquired important experience pitching in the playoffs. They understand better what it takes to be successful. This is notably the case for guys like Roberto Osuna and Aaron Sanchez.
On other changes with the new front office
It changes our work a little. Not on the field, but more with the changes to the training regimens and the nutrition. Which will only help us in the end.
On playing in hometown Montreal
Last year, I put a lot of pressure on myself but I just want to enjoy myself this year. We are celebrating baseball, which we can’t do all year in Montreal. People are excited and it adds a little spice to the city, even.
Martin actually says "sauce piquante" which means "hot sauce." It doesn't really translate in this context. But enjoy the image of the Blue Jays being hot sauce.
I thought I was never going to have the chance, I arrived in baseball in 2006 and I told myself ‘You’re too late.’ I was drafted by the Expos (in 2000) and I thought about that. If only I had signed with them, I might’ve saved them.”
That's actually quite sad. I don't think anything was really going to save them at that point, but the thought is a beautiful one. A World Series in 1994 might've done it.
I looked it up. Martin was drafted in the 2000 draft by Montreal in the 35th round but didn’t sign. I’m guessing he decided to go to college in the States for a bit and try to get drafted higher. Which is what happened in the 2002 draft where the Dodgers took him in the 17th round as a third baseman.
There is a buzz and every time people are excited about my sport, I also get excited.
I just want to be an influence on kids. If I can inspire one kid to become a baseball player and learn those life lessons.
“If we continue to play good baseball, it’s going to contribute to keep keeping the flame alive. It’s not to put too much pressure, but I would like to see a team back in Montreal. I hope that the elastic of three years of exhibition games doesn’t break.”
Hold up. The elastic? This is an example of how language is idiomatic. Let’s go with “momentum” there. “I hope the momentum of three years of exhibition games doesn’t break.”
It would be great if Montreal comes back in the American League, which gives it a natural rivalry with Toronto and Major League Baseball would be the winner. I think the city is ready and it’s just a matter of time.
Montreal has a great reputation as an exceptional city, for restaurants, fashion and multiculturalism. I think the Jays touch all of Canada and it’s nice they can do that with the loss of the Expos.
I remember Dan Shulman at a Pitch Talks event saying that big leaguers also miss Montreal. Probably for the strip clubs. The presentation to get the MLBPA on board might be fun.
It’s always cool to visit a place you’ve never visited before. Plus, with the French, it’s a bit like visiting a different continent.
And that's about it.
I had to tell myself that losing two exhibition games to the Red Sox didn't matter. And it doesn't. But from now on, it counts.