(CBS) — Russell Martin says he knows what has caused the dropp-off in his performance the past few seasons, John Lott of the National Post reports.

“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.”

Martin is set to become the starting catcher for the New York Yankees this season.

Back in his hometown of Toronto for Baseball Canada’s fund-raising banquet Saturday, Martin spoke frankly, if not fully, about his past two down years and the injuries that prompted  the Los Angeles Dodgers to cut ties after five seasons.

“I had some distractions that maybe led me not to have that same drive that I’ve had in the past,” he said. “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.”

In his first three seasons as a Dodger, Martin batted .285, averaging 14 homers, 77 RBIs and an .806 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage). Over his past two years, he averaged .249 with six homers, 40 RBIs and a .680 OPS.

After the Dodgers forced him into free agency, Martin said his choice came down to the Yankees and his hometown Blue Jays. The Jays, he said, were willing to match the Yankees’ one-year, US$4-million offer.

But Martin wanted to remain an everyday catcher. Over an average week, the Jays wanted him to catch four days, play “somewhere else” twice and take a day off, he said.

“The Yankees were just, ‘Hey, we want you to catch as much as possible. We want you to be our guy,’ ” Martin said.

“In my mind, it was, ‘Where do I have a chance to win a World Series the most this next year?’ ”

Martin claims that the distractions that plagued him in Los Angeles are behind him. “I feel like I’m back where I need to be. Just mentally, I feel better.”

“I think I’ve got a lot to prove,” he said, “especially with the last couple years that I’ve had.”

John Lott, National Post.

© Copyright 2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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