Monday, March 22, 2010
Martin has close call, direct hits
By Tony Jackson
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Batting practice ended early for Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Russell Martin on Monday when it turned into target practice.
Martin's session against live pitching ended when he was knocked down once and hit twice by minor league pitcher Tim Corcoran -- once in the back, once above his left wrist.
Martin, facing live pitching for the second time since being shut down by a right groin injury, was clearly frustrated when he left the field, shouting an obscenity as he entered the hallway outside the clubhouse. But by the time he had gone to the training room for treatment and returned with an ice pack on his wrist, he was in good spirits and was laughing about what had happened with his teammates.
Dodgers manager Joe Torre and trainer Stan Conte said there was no reason to be concerned about either plunking.
"He is fine, except when we did this little simulated game, it got a little too simulated,'' Torre said. "He got knocked down, which obviously wasn't on purpose, then he got hit sort of in the back. Then he got hit again, luckily a little up from his wrist. Same session, same pitcher.
"The third one was the charm, and that was it. No damage, but it was a little too uncomfortable for him, so we stopped it," Torre said. "He would have continued, but we were trying to get his stroke going, and if he was going to alter his stroke ... it just wasn't going to work.''
One observer said Corcoran appeared rattled after knocking Martin down the first time, which could have led to his control problems. Martin had taken live BP the previous day off two other minor league pitchers, Tim Sexton and Eric Thompson, without incident.
Knuckleball doesn't hurt Haeger's chances
Knuckleballer Charlie Haeger took his regular turn on the minor league side on Monday instead of in a Cactus League game. That's partly because his notoriously unpredictable pitch isn't nearly as unpredictable in the thin desert air, and Torre wanted him to pitch in a more pressure-free environment.
Torre also said Haeger's candidacy for the vacant fifth spot in the starting rotation isn't hampered by the fact he is a knuckleballer, even though the rotation probably would have to be juggled so he wouldn't pitch in Arizona or the equally thin air of Colorado.
"Those would probably be the only two places,'' Torre said. "It's our job just to make sure we line him up right if he becomes one of our starters.''
Remote-control helicopters will no longer be seen in the Dodgers' clubhouse this spring. The club has released non-roster infielder Angel Berroa, who could frequently be seen flying his tiny helicopter around the room.
Berroa, the 2003 American League Rookie of the Year with Kansas City, appeared in 84 games for the Dodgers in 2008, batting .230, and was on the playoff roster for both the National League division and championship series that year.
But after batting a combined .143 for the two New York teams last season, Berroa came to camp as the longest of long shots to make the club. Although he had three hits in eight Cactus League at-bats and got a free trip to Taiwan out of the deal, his odds never improved.
"We just knew he wasn't going to make our club, and we figured we would give him a chance to catch on with somebody else over these last 10 days to two weeks of spring training,'' Torre said. "If we need someone to go to, [Chin-lung] Hu is sitting there, and he is a whole lot better than he was a year ago, and he has a [40-man] roster spot.''
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.