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Time for Russell Martin's annual excuse for why his play with the Dodgers went south

January 17, 2011 |  2:39 pm

Oh, so that was the problem. Silly us.

It wasn't that Russell Martin was too thin, or too heavy; it wasn't that he was trying too hard to pull the ball or go to the opposite field.

The poor guy was distracted.

Why didn't we realize this? Surely the signs were everywhere. Don't you just feel so stupid?

Yep, our favorite ex-Dodgers catcher has his excuse 2011: He was lacking subconscious motivation because of his personal life.

"I had some distractions that maybe led me not to have that same drive that I've had in the past," Martin told Canada's National Post. "Really, that's all it is, honestly. I didn't train quite as -- I trained hard, but before, nobody trained as hard as I did."

That's it!

It was personal issues. You know, because no one else has those. It's the explanation he gave for why he went from budding star to pure mediocrity.

Mostly, anyway. He didn't exactly explain to the National Post what those distractions were.

"There's some things that you keep for yourself," Martin said. "Those distractions, they're personal -- personal issues in my life that not everybody needs to know about."

That's understandable, of course. If they choose, celebrities are entitled to a sense of privacy in their personal life.

Just don't elect to keep it private, and then try to hide behind it.

This way, of course, Martin is simply leaving those "distractions" open to speculation, which can be a tough gambit.

Once there was a concern in some quarters that he was too much the Hollywood party guy. Then it was his relationship with ridiculously hot Canadian supermodel Marikym Hervieux.

Whatever, it seems a tad too convenient that Martin has an annual excuse for why he went from having an OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) of .843 in 2007 to .680 the last two seasons. He doesn't turn 28 until next month.

Wrote the National Post: "Whatever those west-coast distractions were, he insists they are behind him. 'I feel like I'm back where I need to be. Just mentally, I feel better.'"

Good for him, I guess. Good for the Yankees. New York is known for its own distractions, so good luck with that.

Should he struggle in the Big Apple, though, why do I suspect he'll have an excuse?

-- Steve Dilbeck