Notes: Torre to rest catcher Martin
Skipper hopes to keep backstop fresh during long campaign
VERO BEACH, Fla. -- All Star, Gold Glove and Silver Slugger catcher Russell Martin received his official notification from manager Joe Torre that he won't be played into the ground this year.
Martin appeared in 151 games last year, starting 143 behind the plate. The best all-around player on the club last year, Martin made it difficult for former manager Grady Little to leave him out of the lineup, both with his play and stubbornness when asked to rest.
With the Yankees, however, Torre's catcher, Jorge Posada, averaged about 10 fewer games per year, and the new skipper has indicated a similar workload is in store for Martin with planned days off. The Dodgers' backstop is beginning to sound receptive to the plan.
"We had a quick chat on the field and the main thing is he wanted me to know what to expect," said Martin. "I've got to listen to a guy with his experience. He pretty much said he wants me to have a day off a week.
"I've always wanted to play until I feel tired and I don't see that it's a big issue. But I understand the thinking that if I take some time early when it doesn't seem like I need it, I'll be stronger at the end. That part I understand. It makes sense."
Even when Martin would take a rare day off last year, he would be seen running around the outfield shagging fly balls during batting practice or even taking grounders in the infield. That might also change.
"Maybe on days off, I have to shut it down and not do anything," he said. "I've had a lot of catchers with experience tell me when you take a day off, they're off. And take a mental day off. I'm used to thinking that every game is important, so I never want to not play. But last year, I saw how those games at the end of the year were so valuable and I wish I had felt better toward the end than I did."
Martin hit .306 in the first half, but tailed off to .275 after the All-Star break.
Torre watches Kuo: Torre made a point of watching Hong-Chih Kuo throw live batting practice. The left-handed Kuo, recovering from his fourth elbow operation, is out of options and must either make the club out of Spring Training or risk being lost to another club.
With Brad Penny, Derek Lowe, Chad Billingsley and Hiroki Kuroda locking up four spots in the rotation, the fifth spot will go to Jason Schmidt, if he's healthy enough to start the season, while Torre indicated Esteban Loaiza would be "agreeable" to serving as a long reliever.
Another player out of options, outfielder Delwyn Young, will soon add third base to his ever-growing resume of positions. He's been taking ground balls this week at second base, where he hasn't played since 2005.
"We want to make him -- as Yogi [Berra] would say -- make him necessary," said Torre. "He's willing to do it. [Infield coach Larry] Bowa has talked about him at third. Especially with a guy who can hit like him at the corners, we want to get him back in the infield mix."
Schmidt and Yhency Brazoban, still taking an extra day between throwing sessions as they return from shoulder surgery, pitched their third bullpen sessions. Hiroki faced hitters for the first time as a Dodger.
Torre said he is pleased that Matt Kemp and Andruw Jones have become fast friends since last month's minicamp in Los Angeles. Torre has the two outfielders in the same hitting group and said the knowledge Jones can share with Kemp, having arrived at an even younger age (19) than the 23-year-old Kemp, can be invaluable.
"[Kemp] has been trumpeted as the heir apparent and a guy with a big upside, and it's all true, but there are certain subtleties and nuances," Torre said. "Andruw was young at one time. He can give a young player the benefit of his experience."
"He's really not that old," Kemp said of the 30-year-old Jones.
Too many pitchers? There's supposed to be no such thing, but with 34 arms in camp (Dominican Alfredo Simon is still in having visa troubles), the Dodgers have added another intrasquad game for Sunday to the one already scheduled for Tuesday.
Glendale update: The Dodgers and White Sox still expect the city of Glendale, Ariz., to deliver on time a Spring Training site that the clubs plan to share beginning next year. The Dodgers have an agreement in place with Indian River County to void their current long-term Dodgertown lease and have until July 15 to notify the county if they will need Dodgertown for next Spring Training. There also is a March 31 deadline for the club to retain the long-term lease, although that is not expected to happen. The two deadlines are designed to provide Indian River County a timetable with which it can pursue a new tenant for Dodgertown.
Another Repko: A text message sent by outfielder Jason Repko reported the Thursday afternoon arrival of Tyler Jason Repko. At seven pounds, the newest Repko and mother Traci are doing fine, and the new father is expected back in camp for Monday workouts after flying home to Washington for the birth.
Japanese signing: The Dodgers signed Japanese catcher Fumimasa Ishibashi, 24, to a Minor League contract. He has played independent ball in the U.S.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.