WASHINGTON -- Dodgers catcher Russell Martin, who had the go-ahead RBI single in the 13th inning of Saturday's game, credits three factors for his fast start offensively.
Martin said that he's stronger after a rigorous offseason training regimen that added bulk; he has a better grasp of hitting coach Don Mattingly's swing approach that keeps the bat in the hitting zone longer; and he benefited from extra conditioning he did in Spring Training while sidelined by a strained right groin muscle.
"I do feel good," said Martin, who is hitting .308 this year after hitting .250 last year. "The gain in strength helped, for sure, and all that work in Spring Training added to that. And last year was just a weird year."
Manager Joe Torre was asked if Martin looks more like the offensive player he was told about when he took over than the one he managed in 2008-09.
"Right now, he's the player his ability tells you he can be," said Torre. "He's hitting line drives to all fields. When he hit 19 homers [in 2007], he got so long in the swing he took a lot of the stuff he does out of play. When he keeps his swing compact, he's dangerous. He'll hit some home runs, but that's not a big part of his game. He'll be productive."
Torre said Martin's offensive game reminds him of Nationals catcher Ivan Rodriguez.
"There are a lot of similarities with him and Russell," Torre said. "Pudge always uses the whole field."
Towers, Castillo among starting candidates
WASHINGTON -- The Dodgers have an idea who will take the hill in place of disabled starter Vicente Padilla in New York, but manager Joe Torre wasn't ready to announce it Sunday.
Probably the leading candidate with Triple-A Albuquerque is righty Josh Towers, who would be starting on proper rest, but the club would first need to open a 40-man roster spot. Scott Elbert is already on the 40-man roster, but he hasn't been pitching well for Albuquerque, and he skipped his Saturday start to go home for the birth of his child. Josh Lindblom is not an option, as he started Sunday for Albuquerque.
Pitching best for Double-A Chattanooga is right-hander Jesus Castillo (1.56 ERA in three starts), who pitched seven scoreless innings Friday and spent most of 2009 on the 40-man roster but has never pitched above Double-A.
Torre ruled out the notion of patching together a tag team of relievers such as Rule 5 rookie Carlos Monasterios and veteran Ramon Ortiz.
"They'll probably stay [in the bullpen], only because we're assuming we'll need them out of the bullpen," Torre said. "We're thinking of one person, but I'm not sure he's been told."
Padilla's spot would normally fall on Tuesday, although Torre said knuckleballer Charlie Haeger could be moved up a day and pitch on three days' rest, which would allow the club to give reliever Jon Link an extra day and slot Padilla's replacement into Wednesday's day game. Link was called up as a fresh arm to initially take Padilla's spot on the 25-man roster.
Link's whirlwind week continues
WASHINGTON -- After passing through five airports Saturday, reliever Jon Link was happy to be in a Dodgers uniform Sunday.
When starter Vicente Padilla was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sore right forearm Saturday, Link had already left New Orleans with the Triple-A Albuquerque Dukes, connected through Houston and landed in Omaha, Neb., the next stop on Albuquerque's trip.
At the Omaha airport, however, Albuquerque manager Tim Wallach got the word that Link had been promoted, and he told Link to grab his bag and get to Washington. Link left Omaha, connected in Chicago and arrived in Washington on Saturday night.
"I woke up in New Orleans at 3:30 in the morning and landed in Washington at 9:30 at night," said Link.
And Link was called up only three days after being sent down while in Cincinnati, when the Dodgers activated Ronald Belisario from the disabled list on Wednesday. Link pitched two scoreless innings for the Dodgers on Tuesday and was rewarded with a demotion. He hasn't pitched since, making him the freshest arm in the Dodgers' bullpen going into Sunday's game.
"I'm prepared for that [shuttling up and down] to be my job this year," said Link. "When they call me, I'll be ready."
Ethier out of starting lineup on Sunday
WASHINGTON -- Andre Ethier was out of the starting lineup Sunday, which wasn't surprising since the Dodgers played a 13-inning game on Saturday and were facing a left-handed starter in the Nationals' Scott Olsen on Sunday.
But manager Joe Torre also mentioned the sprained left ankle that Ethier suffered the first week of the season, causing him to miss three starts.
"He's still treating that ankle," said Torre.
Torre said that he would have preferred to remove Ethier in an 11th-inning double-switch Saturday, when he brought in long reliever and eventual winning pitcher Carlos Monasterios. But instead of using Ethier's third slot in the lineup, Torre put Monasterios in Matt Kemp's fourth spot. Kemp made the final out in the top of the 11th, getting thrown out on a disputed steal attempt of second base after singling.
"I'd much prefer to take [Ethier] out instead of Matt, but I'm trying to buy as many outs as I can with the last pitcher on the mound," said Torre.
Starting on Sunday for Ethier in right field was Reed Johnson. Garret Anderson started in left field, and Ronnie Belliard started at second base.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.