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VERO BEACH, Fla. -- Dodgers manager Grady Little has been dropping hints about catcher Russell Martin's offensive potential and on Monday he laid it out a little clearer, saying Martin would likely move up to No. 6 in the batting order.
"He has a chance to drive in a lot of runs," Little said of Martin, who drove in 65 runs in 415 at-bats after getting called up May 5. "He's a very productive player and he can drive in a lot of runs. We feel we want him to bat more often. He moves the ball and with a lot of authority. He could also hit second, but right now the plan is to hit sixth, the way the club is made up."
That means Rafael Furcal leading off, followed by Juan Pierre, Nomar Garciaparra, Jeff Kent, Luis Gonzalez and Martin. Spots seven and eight figure to be taken by Wilson Betemit and Andre Ethier, although Little won't yet commit in which order. Betemit likely has more power and Ethier is more selective.
"They're not locked in and I don't know if they ever will be," Little said. "It could be a match-up situation."
Martin had nearly 300 of his at-bats last year in the No. 8 spot in the batting order. Little predicted Martin could have 15-20 home-run potential. He said Martin came to Spring Training last year not figuring to make the club, while this year he's the starter.
"Last year he wasn't sure if he was a big-league player and this year he's sure," Little said. "Last year there were areas he could improve in the young player department. Sometimes he was overly excited instead of nice and cool. When he came back May 5, we could see a drastic change. He was a lot more confident. Our record showed what he meant to the club after he joined us."
Although the lineup might not have a masher that opposing pitchers fear, Little said the balance from top to bottom should generate enough runs.
"It could be that the guy hitting eighth leads the team in home runs," he said. "That makes for a pretty potent lineup. I wouldn't want to be the pitcher on the other side facing this lineup. You're not waiting for two or three guys to create the runs."
Little said that Greg Miller, his shoulder now healthy, might be moved back to being a starter. Once one of the most promising left-handed starters in the Minor Leagues, he was shifted to the bullpen to ease the load on his shoulder.
Martin on Tomko: Asked if anything has caught his eye during his catching duties, Martin said he's been especially impressed with Brett Tomko's new-and-improved two-seam fastball.
"It's really good, down in the zone," said Martin. "With his powerful arm, if he has a ball that goes down in the zone, he'll get more ground balls."
Tomko said he's beginning to believe in it.
"I asked Derek Lowe if he thought I should throw it," said Tomko. "He said, 'Only if you want to get one-pitch outs.' "
Saito still protected:
Closer Takashi Saito is throwing on the same schedule as the other pitchers, but he has yet to participate in fielding practice drills while protecting his strained calf muscle. Little said Saito might not see his first exhibition game action until next week.
You're an All-Star:
Garciaparra and Brad Penny, Dodgers All-Stars last year, participated Monday in the taping of a Major League Baseball commercial for this year's All-Star Game. Because the game is in San Francisco, a cable car was brought in as a prop for the taping.
Apparently the Dodgers haven't totally scrapped the idea of third-base prospect Andy La Roche in the outfield, because he was working with coach Dave Jauss on Monday on balls bouncing in front of him and turning to chase balls hit over his head.
Grab a bat:
The Dodgers will hold an open tryout at 9 a.m. ET Thursday at Dodgertown's Fields 5 & 6 and any professional or amateur free agent can attend. Registration begins at 8 a.m. Participants must bring their equipment and be dressed in baseball attire. For more information call 772-569-4900.