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Martin credits homework on Cards for recent surge

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MILWAUKEE -- If National League Players of the Week had to give acceptance speeches, Russell Martin's might go like this:

"And, in closing, I'd like to thank the Cardinals batters for showing me how I can be better."

Martin concluded his award-winning week with a two-homer, 10-total bases game Sunday in St. Louis, which he said was aided by a little squat studying.

"I was checking out how they were setting up in the box and attacking the baseball," Martin said of his view of the Cards from behind the plate. "They had some pretty good approaches, and I felt they were staying on balls that normally are good pitches.

"I've never really done that before, taking something from the other team. But I tried something that I saw, and it worked for me."

So that was one odd aspect of Martin's first career weekly award. The other oddity is that two weeks ago, he was a .063 hitter, with two hits in 32 at-bats.

"That kind of a start, it's going to balance out somewhere," said Martin, believing he was helped out by the proverbial law of averages.

Martin actually has been torrid for a couple of weeks -- batting .409 in his last dozen games -- putting a rather positive spin on the Pirates' hustle to sign him away from the Yankees, a move that had been roundly criticized.

"This is why we got him. Why we were so aggressive to get him," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We talked a lot over the winter about how he can ramp up his offense."

The Yankees did not hide their displeasure over Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington swooping down for Martin while they were busy dealing with Robinson Cano and Andy Pettitte. Now Martin is the NL Player of the Week, and his replacement in the Bronx, Francisco Cervelli, recently suffered a fractured right hand.

However, get this: Entering Monday's games, Martin was batting .267 with five homers and nine RBIs -- and Cervelli and his replacement, Chris Stewart, were batting a combined .268 with four homers and nine RBIs.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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