Martin excited to return for 2015
Sitting at home watching television before bed, Chad Holbrook got a call and looked down at his cell.
It was Kyle Martin.
It was late.
It couldn't possibly be good news.
"He interrupted me watching Jimmy Fallon," Holbrook said. "When I saw his name on the cell phone I thought, 'Uh oh. This can't be good.'
"You get late-night calls from players, it's not usually going your way."
This time, however, it did go Holbrook's way, as Martin told his coach he was returning to school for his senior year.
"I could tell he had a little pep in his voice," Holbrook said. "He seemed relieved, he seemed excited. So I knew what he was getting ready to tell me. He's not a good poker player.
"When our players are happy about returning, it makes a coach feel awfully good. Obviously we're thrilled. It was a great phone call, it was a great day here yesterday for us."
Holbrook said he needed the lift Martin's announcement provided.
"I've been feeling sorry for myself the last couple of weeks with the way we played down the stretch and in the tournament," Holbrook said. "We needed some good news. I felt like we'd won a big-time series on the road or just won a regional when you get a player like that back.
"It's extremely important and totally changes the dynamic of your team for next year. Right away you have two experienced guys in Max (Schrock) and Kyle who have hit in the middle of our lineup, and I feel really good about a couple of the guys we've recruited who can hit in the middle of our lineup.
"So I think we'll be a formidable team offensively, and a lot of that has to do with Kyle. He's important in all aspects, offense, defense, off the field, the way he goes to class, the way he studies, the way he takes care of business. He'a a very responsible guy and a great leader for our team."
For Martin, the deciding factor was the experience of playing his senior year at first base for South Carolina outweighed what the Dodgers offered him as a 20th-round draft pick.
"It took a while to come up with a decision, a couple days, a couple long nights debating what I was going to do," said Martin, who led the team in hitting with a .336 average was one of only two players to start every game alongside center fielder Tanner English. "I just decided this was the best decision overall, come back, get my degree or at least work toward it."
Martin said the decision to come back wasn't easy.
"This is probably the toughest decision I've ever made," Martin said. "Even going back to high school, deciding what college I was going to, that had nothing on this.
"I've always had a dream to play pro ball, and it's hard to pass up something like that. But the deal wasn't there, it's not what I was hoping for and obviously I'm looking forward to coming back and playing here."
As is Holbrook.
"It's obviously a big boost for our program, a big boost for next year," Holbrook said. "He's going to be a senior leader and team captain and I guess our only remaining player who has played in the College World Series and gotten a hit in Omaha.
"Kyle's worked extremely hard both on the field and off. He's the epitome of what a student-athlete should be. He's done great in the classroom, he's close to his degree and he's been a great player for us."