Punting football pays off for Nats' Martinson

WASHINGTON — Contrary to what Jason Martinson might have guessed when he came out of his high school, his baseball career already has lasted quite a bit longer than his football career.

The 22-year-old shortstop was a fifth-round pick last June out of Texas State, where he had one catch for eight yards as a wide receiver before starring on the Bobcats' baseball team. Martinson pulled a hamstring in his first college football game, quickly ending his season. By the spring, he contributed to the baseball team at third base, shortstop and even catcher for a couple of games. He never saw the need to go back to the gridiron.

Out of Birdville (Texas) High, Martinson originally committed to North Texas.

"I wasn't necessarily giving up on baseball," Martinson said. "When I went on a recruiting visit (to North Texas), the rumor was that they were starting baseball, and I believed it. I only got recruited a little in baseball because I committed to football first, but then Texas State said I could do both."

Sticking with baseball is paying off for Martinson, who received a $174,000 bonus and debuted with short-season Vermont, where he hit .241/.346/.344 in 253 at-bats.

"That first year was more of a learning experience," Martinson said. "I had a blast. Luckily I knew several of the guys because we had players from Texas, Houston and Rice."

Martinson went on to play in instructional league, where he worked on keeping a consistent swing regardless of the type of pitch.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound righthanded hitter has been invited to the organization's accelerated development camp, scheduled to start in late February.

Farm director Doug Harris is impressed with Martinson's athleticism. "As a dual-sport college athlete, he's not as refined as one-sport guys, but he has a nice ceiling both offensively and defensively," he said. "He shows flashes of all phases of the game."


• To acquire lefthander Tom Gorzelanny from the Cubs, the organization parted with three prospects in outfielder Michael Burgess, righthander A.J. Morris and lefthander Graham Hicks.

• Double-A Harrisburg manager Tony Beasley sang the national anthem at the team's hot stove event. He has performed the song before games at several of his previous managerial and coaching stops, most recently at Pittsburgh's PNC Park. He was the Pirates' third-base coach the past three seasons and served in the same role with the Nationals in 2006.