Russell Martin 'ripped and powerful'

02/21/2012 2:50 PM ET
By Jon Lane /

Russell Martin is determined to build off a successful first
season with the Yankees. (AP)

Motivated to rebound from a shaky 2011 season, Phil Hughes reported to Spring Training in the best shape of his life.

Judging from Russell Martin’s confidence, the Yankees may have the most buffed and finely-tuned battery in Major League Baseball.

Last season, Martin played in 125 games (all as Yankees catcher), his most since 2009 (143). Martin played aggressive, played smart and established an immediate rapport with Yankee pitchers. A huge part of his success was his offseason workout with noted strength coach Jonathan Chaimberg at the Adrenaline Performance Center in Martin's hometown of Montreal.

During this past offseason, Martin worked out even harder, enduring Chaimberg's already rigorous Mixed Martial Arts training regimen. He arrived to camp telling reporters that a full winter’s worth of workouts “will be a huge difference” while vowing to be the “fittest Yankee.”

“If there's any guys in more shape than me, I’d be surprised," Martin said. ”If there are, I'd be happy, because I'm coming ready this year.”

Martin, who batted .237 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs in his first season in the Bronx, is again the unquestioned No. 1 catcher, this time without the specter of Jesus Montero. A former national wrestler, Chaimberg has trained two of the best MMA fighters in the world. UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre ranks in the top-three of best pound-for-pound fighters. Another former protégé, Rashad Evans, will attempt to become a two-time UFC light-heavyweight champion when he challenges Jon Jones at UFC 145 April 21 in Atlanta.

I interviewed Chaimberg last year about Martin and we’ve kept in touch. Tuesday afternoon he Tweeted me (via @JonChaimberg) the following message:

“Wait till you see the shape @russellmartin55 is in.....ripped and shape of his life....ready to hit #bombs.”

If you’re an MMA fan and you’ve watched the UFC on Fox, The Ultimate Fighter, or Bellator Fighting Championships, you know full well what these athletes endure just to prepare for competition. If you’re a Fantasy Baseball player, you may want to consider Martin as a sleeper. At age 29, completely healthy and hitting in a rugged Yankees lineup, you could eventually be looking at a signature season.

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