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Former Phillies Utility Player Michael Martinez Returns to Pennsylvania for 2019

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

Former Philadelphia Phillies players sure do find their way around professional baseball. Domonic Brown in Mexico, Darin Ruf, Tommy Joseph and Jake Thompson in Korea, and now Michael Martinez ... in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

The seven-year Major League veteran recently inked a contract with the Lancaster Barnstormers, one of eight teams in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball — the same league that the now-defunct Camden Riversharks belonged to.

While Martinez will not log any MLB at-bats in Lancaster, his appearances will still be under close eye of the league. A recent agreement allows MLB to use the Atlantic League as a "testbed" for potential future rule changes; Baseball America lists the following seven rule changes that MLB will be test in 2019:

  1. Computer assisted strike zone
  2. No mound visits by players other than pitching changes/injury
  3. Pitchers face minimum of 3 batters or end of inning.
  4.  Increase bases by 3 inches (to 18 inches)
  5. Two infielders must be on each side of second base when a pitch is thrown
  6. Time between innings will be cut from 2:05 to 1:45
  7. The mound will be moved back by two feet in the second half of the season

Martinez, 36, played in 162 games with the Phillies from 2011 to 2013, slashing just .187/.234/.261 with 68 hits, 34 RBI, 23 walks and 68 strikeouts spanning 396 plate appearances. The switch-hitter fielded second and third base, shortstop and all three outfield positions while donning red pinstripes.

“Martinez is an experienced veteran player who will play a lot of shortstop for us but can actually play all over the field,” said Barnstormers Manager Ross Peeples. “We look forward to having his leadership on our team and in our locker room.”

"Mini-Mart" appeared in nine postseason games in the majors, including four with the Cleveland Indians in the 2016 World Series, where he went hitless in three plate appearances with one run scored and two strikeouts. Martinez appeared in two games with the Phillies in the 2011 NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Martinez played with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2014, the Indians in 2015-16 and 2017, the Boston Red Sox in 2016, and most recently the Tampa Bay Rays in 2017. Martinez was slated to appear in Indians spring training camp last season as a non-roster invitee, however he missed the entire season due to undergoing surgery at the Cleveland Clinic to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon in his left leg.

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