MLB Baseball

Martin reunited with Kershaw, connecting with new teammates

(AP Photo/Morry Gash)


Associated Press

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Before the Los Angeles Dodgers pulled the trigger on their January trade to bring back catcher Russell Martin, they watched enough video to convince themselves he would bounce back from career lows in batting average and slugging percentage.

On the first official day of pitcher and catcher workouts Wednesday, they couldn't be more pleased with the four-time All-Star.

"Bringing Martin back, just him getting up to speed with our guys, the early returns have been unbelievable," said Andrew Friedman, Dodgers president of baseball operations. "Not surprising just how much he's already invested into our guys, the questions he's asking. All he wants to do is win and you can see it in everything he does."

As a replacement for Yasmani Grandal, who signed as a free agent with Milwaukee, Martin is connecting with returning catcher Austin Barnes and eliminating concerns about the possibility of splitting time.

"As far as Barnes, he looks like he's a tremendous athlete, a good catcher, a good teammate," Martin said. "Good teammates have one goal in common, they want the team to win and I think we share that so I am not going to be (complaining) at all about playing time. As long as we win games, and we put ourselves in position to hopefully win a championship, that's all we can do."

Martin, who will turn 36 on Friday, has made the playoffs nine times in a 13-year career that began with the Dodgers (2006-2010), and continued with the Yankees (2011-12), Pirates (2013-14) and Blue Jays (2015-18).

With Toronto out of the playoffs last season and committed to developing younger players, Martin did not play the last month and was limited to 289 at-bats, a far cry from his more than 500 at-bats in 2013, 2015 and 2016.

"I was horrible last year," Martin said. "Still a tough out, still could work a count, still hit the ball relatively hard, but it was a down year. I wasn't as good as I can be. When you get older, they give an excuse for you, `Well, you're getting old.' But my body felt great. I got zero excuses."

He's already pleased with the approach from new Dodgers hitting coach Robert Van Scoyoc and his staff, including hitting strategist Brant Brown and assistant hitting coach Aaron Bates. Van Scoyoc came aboard Nov. 28 to replace Turner Ward, who was hired by the Reds, new home of former Dodgers Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp.

From their analysis of Martin's 2018 performance, they recommend change.

"They told me, `We can clean up your lower half. We feel we can synchronize it to where it is working together,'" Martin said.

Manager Dave Roberts expects improvement.

"No. 1, Russell gives you a professional at-bat, the quality of contact is there," he said. "I am sure he understands there was an angle issue there, a negative angle consistently."

The goal is for the ball to jump off his bat via an effortless swing.

"An effortless swing is a swing you can control, and when you are in control, you typically have better at-bats," Martin said. "I've always been good at pitch recognition; I always draw walks . last season I was not in position (mechanically) to hit the ball."

Defensively, he is studying an analytics package provided by Friedman, which shows key aspects of each Dodgers pitcher. Plus, he is picking Barnes' brain.

"The biggest part about being a catcher is knowing your pitchers, building that relationship, building that confidence," Martin said.

Left-hander Rich Hill appreciates Martin's seasoning.

"One thing you can't teach is experience, so what he brings into this clubhouse of over a decade of playing in the major leagues is going to help immensely," Hill said.

Clayton Kershaw is the only Dodgers pitcher to have ever worked with Martin. They reunited on Tuesday for a bullpen session.

"I thought their discussion during the pen session was great," Roberts said. "I know Russell is very excited to catch him."

NOTES: Roberts said life without Puig "is going to be different." "It is going to be a quieter camp, whether that is good or bad." ... Closer Kenley Jansen threw his first bullpen Wednesday and was pleased with his spin rate, which dipped last season as he struggled to overcome a hamstring injury and dealt with atrial fibrillation. An August episode in Denver led to an ablation procedure on Nov. 26. "He looks great," said Friedman. . Mark Prior will be the primary pitching coach in the absence of Rick Honeycutt, who underwent surgery Tuesday and is expected to be away for a few weeks while recovering.


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Updated February 13, 2019

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Teams Score Time
Appalachian State 34 F
North Carolina 31
Ball State 23 F
NC State 34
Carolina   4:05pm
Carolina 2 F
Washington 3
Teams Score Time
Boston College 30 F
Rutgers 16
California 28 F
Ole Miss 20
Elon 7 F
Wake Forest 49
LSU 66 F
Vanderbilt 38
Michigan 14 F
Wisconsin 35
Southern Mississippi 7 F
Alabama 49
Tennessee 3 F
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North Carolina 31
Auburn 28 F
Texas A&M 20
Louisville 24 F
Florida State 35
Miami (OH) 5 F
Ohio State 76
SMU 41 F
TCU 38
UCF 34 F
Pittsburgh 35
Washington 45 F
BYU 19
Central Michigan 12 F
Miami 17
Ball State 23 F
NC State 34
Old Dominion 17 F
Virginia 28
Oregon 21 F
Stanford 6
Charlotte 10 F
Clemson 52
Oklahoma State 30 F
Texas 36
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Georgia 23
Colorado 34 F
Arizona State 31
Washington State 63
Teams Score Time
Philadelphia 9 F
Cleveland 4
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Toronto 2 F
New York 7
Boston 4 F
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Chicago 5 F
Detroit 3
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Baltimore 6
Kansas City 12 F
Minnesota 5
Los Angeles 8 F
Houston 4
Texas 3 F
Oakland 12
Seattle   1:05pm
Toronto   1:05pm
New York  
Boston   1:10pm
Tampa Bay  
Chicago   1:10pm
Kansas City   2:10pm
Los Angeles   2:10pm
Texas   4:07pm
National League
St. Louis 9 F
Chicago 8
New York 2 F
Cincinnati 3
Washington 10 F
Miami 4
Pittsburgh 1 F
Milwaukee 10
San Francisco 1 F
Atlanta 8
Arizona 4 F
San Diego 2
Colorado 4 F
Los Angeles 2
New York   1:10pm
Washington   1:10pm
San Francisco   1:20pm
Pittsburgh   2:10pm
St. Louis   2:20pm
Arizona   4:10pm
San Diego  
Colorado   4:10pm
Los Angeles  
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Atlanta   1:00pm
Baltimore   1:00pm
Kansas City  
Cincinnati   1:00pm
Denver   1:00pm
Green Bay  
Detroit   1:00pm
Miami   1:00pm
New York   1:00pm
New England  
Oakland   1:00pm
Carolina   4:05pm
New York   4:05pm
Tampa Bay  
Houston   4:25pm
Los Angeles  
New Orleans   4:25pm
Pittsburgh   4:25pm
San Francisco  
Los Angeles   8:20pm
Chicago   Mon 8:15pm
Teams Score Time
Pittsburgh 1 F
Columbus 3
Colorado 3 F
Minnesota 4
Carolina 2 F
Washington 3
New York 3 F
New Jersey 4
New York 1 F
Philadelphia 4
Toronto 3 F
Buffalo 5
Montreal 4 F
Ottawa 0
Florida 6 F
Dallas 0
Tampa Bay 4 F/OT
Nashville 5
Vegas 3 F
San Jose 1
Boston 2 F/OT
Chicago 3
Anaheim 3 F/SO
Arizona 4
Vancouver 5 F
Los Angeles 7
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St. Louis  
Pittsburgh   5:00pm
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1 19 Martin Truex Jr 8
2 18 Kyle Busch 4
3 11 Denny Hamlin 6
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8 14 Clint Bowyer 5
9 41 Daniel Suarez 14
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2 22 Austin Cindric 1
3 00 Cole Custer 12
4 7 Justin Allgaier 2
5 98 Chase Briscoe 5
6 18 Harrison Burton 6
7 9 Noah Gragson 8
8 8 Zane Smith 15
9 1 Michael Annett 10
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1 16 Austin Hill 7
2 45 Ross Chastain 2
3 51 Christian Eckes 1
4 2 Sheldon Creed 6
5 4 Todd Gilliland 3
6 30 Brennan Poole 18
7 24 Brett Moffitt 4
8 99 Ben Rhodes 13
9 18 Harrison Burton 9