Russell Martin has caught 71 games for the Blue Jays this season while also dabbling at third base and making a start each at shortstop and left field.
On Sunday afternoon, the Montreal native will get to call the shots from the visitors’ dugout at Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay as manager John Gibbons, in his final game with Toronto, gives way to the veteran backstop.
“Let him have fun with it,” Gibbons said.
It’s believed the 35-year-old Martin will fill out the Blue Jays lineup, handle all in-game moves and speak with the media.
Gibbons, 56, has managed nearly 1,600 games in two stints with Toronto. He won his final home game on Wednesday afternoon, a 3-1 decision over the Houston Astros, and his final road contest, 7-6, in Florida, on Friday.
“It’s probably time for change,” Gibbons told reporters Wednesday, adding he isn’t ready to retire as a major league manager and would like to stay in the game, perhaps in a special assignment role.
The Blue Jays appear to be preparing for a change at the catcher position as well, with Martin sitting frequently late in the season as management gets a look at 23-year-old Danny Jansen, the projected starting catcher for 2019.
Martin entered play Saturday with a .194 batting average in 289 at-bats. His 10 homers and 25 runs batted in are the lowest since 2010 (5-26 in 331 AB) with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The 2018 season is his 13th in the majors and fourth in Toronto, which signed Martin to a five-year free-agent contract worth $82 million US in November 2014.