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Pirates notebook: Russell Martin makes 1st pro start in right field

| Tuesday, June 4, 2013, 7:12 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates catcher Russell Martin scores during the ninth inning against the Cubs on Thursday, April 4, 2013, at PNC Park.

ATLANTA — There were no comparisons made to former Pirates outfielder Al Martin on Tuesday before Russell Martin made his first career start in right field.

And Russell Martin certainly didn't want to hear anything about Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente.

“Let's not even go there, OK?” Martin said after taking some extra fielding practice before the game against the Atlanta Braves.

Martin didn't seem thrilled about taking a turn in the outfield, but he also didn't question the move.

“As long as I'm playing, it's going to be fun,” he said. “I feel I can play any position on the field, so I'm going to enjoy it as if I was a kid. I try to make the best out of any situation. It's a challenge, and I like challenges.”

Martin has shagged flies during batting practice over the past couple of weeks. Manager Clint Hurdle felt the time was right to try something new against Braves lefty Mike Minor.

“It's not looking for a new look,” Hurdle said. “I'm trying to put out what I believe is the best team out there to provide us some offense against the matchup on the mound. This puts the most matchup bats I can get out there. We've been creative with the guys all year, trying to keep some guys in play.”

Martin hadn't played outfield since he was at Chipola Junior College more than a decade ago.

“I remember that Jose Bautista was in center field and I was in right field,” Martin said. “That's all I remember.”

Someone suggested perhaps Hurdle merely wanted to get Martin away from the umpires. Monday, Martin was ejected for disagreeing with ball/strike calls and shouting an expletive.

“This is as far away as we could get him,” Hurdle said.

“That's pretty funny,” Martin said, without laughing.

McCutchen lags in All-Star voting

Andrew McCutchen ranks seventh among National League outfielders in the first round of All-Star Game fan balloting results released Tuesday. McCutchen, who was named to the NL squad in 2011-12, has 576,201 votes.

The leaders among NL outfielders are Justin Upton (1.184 million votes), Bryce Harper (1.182 million) and Ryan Braun (945,665).

No Pirates are listed among the top five vote-getters at the infield positions. Rosters will be announced July 7. Pitchers and reserves will be chosen by the players' ballot and by NL team manager Bruce Bochy.

Also, McCutchen is among 10 NL candidates for the Home Run Derby fan poll. The top three finishers will compete in the derby.

Burnett at the bat

A.J. Burnett led off the fifth inning Monday with a line drive to right field that landed fair by a couple of feet. Burnett paused before leaving the batter's box and running to first base.

“His first hit of the season, so it probably caught him off guard,” Hurdle said with a grin. “Watching the replay, I don't think he knew which way to go. He found his way down to first.”

Minor matters

Bradenton SS Alen Hanson, OF Gregory Polanco and RHP Nick Kingham were named to the High-A Florida State League midseason all-star team. The game will be played June 15. ... West Virginia 1B Stetson Allie, RF Josh Bell and 2B Dilson Herrera will start for the Northern Division in the Low-A South Atlantic League all-star game. West Virginia LHP Orlando Castro, RHP Tyler Glasnow and OF/1B Walker Gourley also were chosen for the game, which will be played June 18.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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