While the Los Angeles Dodgers have been forced to endure injuries primarily on the pitching side, one exception was catcher Russell Martin, who returned from the 10-day injured list over the weekend.
Though sidelined for the past week and a half due to lower back inflammation, Martin has progressed well and managed to avoid a rehab assignment as he resumed baseball activities. In talking his way out of a rehab, Martin was put through a simulated game.
He crossed that hurdle and then started in Sunday’s series finale against the Pittsburgh Pirates. While Martin was back behind the plate, he is trying to alter his catching stance as an effort to alleviate pressure on his lower body, via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
“I’m trying to tweak my setup to be in a more neutral position, and hopefully that will allow me to catch more without putting pressure on an area that doesn’t need unnecessary pressure,” Martin said. “I’ve gone with a staggered position over time that shifts my pelvis. That’s the root of it. It’s not running, it’s not swinging. Just the constant staggered position I’m in. I didn’t start out that way, it’s just something I went to as I progressed and just cheat to be in a better position to throw the ball to second base.
“Another reason it’s smarter to do that is that [fellow catcher Austin Barnes] catches that way, too, so pitchers will have a similar visual,” he said.
Now 36 years old and no longer a full-time catcher, it makes sense that Martin is looking to change his catching stance — especially if doing so puts less pressure on his body and makes him more effective down the stretch.
Though he has appeared in just seven games thus far, Martin is hitting an impressive .316/.462/.526 with one double and one home run over 26 plate appearances while drawing more walks (five) than strikeouts (three).
Martin has even made a bit of MLB history along the way, becoming the first position player to close out the ninth inning of a win since left fielder Willie Smith did so for the Detroit Tigers in 1963.