Becoming a major leaguer has been a life-changing experience for Brett Martin, who made his MLB debut Friday and entered Tuesday with two appearances under his belt.
But the Texas Rangers left-hander’s life really changed in 2016, when he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and had to figure out how to regulate a disease that, as of 2015, affected 30.1 million people in the United States.
It wasn’t easy, but Martin said that his routine is now second nature to him and the disease has never cost him any time on the mound.
“It was a bunch of trial and error, but I’ve got it figured out now,” Martin said. “I can feel it when it’s getting low. I’ve never been in a spot on the mound where I need to stop.”
The only Rangers player in recent memory to play with diabetes was right-hander Mark Lowe, the native Texan and former UT-Arlington star. Hall of Famers Jackie Robinson and Catfish Hunter were diagnosed toward the end of their careers, Ron Santo was diagnosed with Type 1 as a child, and Ty Cobb was diagnosed late in his life.
According to the American Diabetes Association, with Type 1 diabetes the body does not produce insulin, a hormone that moves blood sugar (glucose) from the bloodstream and into cells in the body.
The body breaks down carbohydrates from food into blood sugar, which is used to give the body energy.
Martin frequently checks his blood-sugar levels with a glucose meter throughout the day and at the ballpark. He injects himself with insulin before meals to combat the sugars in carbohydrates. Too much sugar or too little can lead to complications.
“I check my blood sugar before I eat, and I’ll give myself insulin,” said Martin, who turns 24 on Sunday. “I’ll check it before we go out and stretch. If I’m good, I won’t need to take it with me. I’ll check before I eat pregame, and during the game I’ll take the meter out with me. I’ll check it during the game so I’m not surprised.”
The Rangers’ medical staff is not hands-on with Martin’s management of the disease but have instructed him to alert them if he is having any issues.
“I usually have a pretty good handle on it,” Martin said. “I’m good to go before I even go out there.”