For all the confidence the Los Angeles Dodgers expressed in their catching tandem of Austin Barnes and Russell Martin, they have yet to truly see how the two may play off one another.
After appearing in just six games, including once as a pitcher, Martin was placed on the 10-day injured list due to lower back inflammation. The veteran catcher dealt with a similar injury during Spring Training, which he attributed to overworking in the batting cage.
In discussing Martin’s latest back trouble, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said the 36-year-old informed him he typically only needs one week to recover. That’s since passed, and Saturday marks the first day Martin is eligible to be activated.
Having just resumed baseball activities, Roberts explained Martin will need to go on a rehab assignment and likely won’t return until their series next weekend against the Pittsburgh Pirates, via SportsNet LA:
“Russ has been taking swings each day off a tee and I think maybe some flips, I’m not sure. Threw out to about 150 feet [Friday], on a line, looked really good. The challenge for Russ, and we talked, is to get hot, to then cool down to then ramp it back up. That’s where the game situation comes into play. W’er not quite there yet but as far as getting loose, doing baseball-specific activities, we’re there. When he hits in a group as far as batting practice, I’m not sure. As far as length of time away, I know the player probably is against it, but I just don’t see how, with the time off and the potential time off that it’s going to be, that a (rehab) game of catching five to seven innings doesn’t make sense for everyone. … I would expect some time when we get back home he’ll be active.”
Martin’s absence put more of a strain on Barnes, who has slumped since needing to assume a larger workload. Rocky Gale was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City in a corresponding move to Martin landing on the IL, but he’s yet to make much of an impact in minimal opportunities.
Once Martin is reinstated, the Dodgers presumably will carry forward with giving Barnes the majority of starts at catcher.