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05/12/10 8:43 PM ET

Martin thrives but likely done at leadoff

Furcal's return to Dodgers will bump catcher from spot

PHOENIX -- Dodgers catcher Russell Martin probably started his last game batting leadoff in a while on Wednesday night with Rafael Furcal due back Friday, but the spot has been good to the catcher.

Martin has three of his four home runs and six of his 10 RBIs in 24 at-bats leading off, even though he has more at- bats in both the Nos. 2 and 8 spots in the order this year. He didn't hit his fourth home run last year until Aug. 20. He came into Wednesday night's game with a seven-game hitting streak.

"He feels he thrives on the work," manager Joe Torre said when asked about a break for Martin, who has started 28 of the club's 33 games. "We've got an off-day [Thursday]. He's good right now. He's pretty comfortable at the plate and his actions behind the plate are fine. He'll get a day off this weekend, probably Sunday. His hands are working so well right now."

Torre also had praise for first baseman James Loney, who had four hits Tuesday night to raise his average to .326 and has passed Matt Kemp to be second on the club with 23 RBIs.

"He continues to get better," said Torre. "Maybe he's not like Andre Ethier with monster home runs, but I still think he'll hit 20, not necessarily this year, but he's a guy who will be very productive. The situation of the game doesn't bother him. He stays as calm as anybody I've ever been around, to be honest with you.

"You could tell him what a terrible player he is and he'll say, thank you, and still feel good about himself. He's got a lot of confidence."

Ely to remain in Dodgers' rotation

PHOENIX -- Manager Joe Torre reiterated that John Ely, who earned his first Major League victory Tuesday night, will remain in the Dodgers' rotation.

"He's one of our starters right now," Torre said after Ely pitched six-plus innings. "[Vicente] Padilla is more than a month away. I don't see where he's [Ely] in any danger."

Ely has pitched at least six innings in each of his three Major League starts and has issued only three walks in 18 2/3 innings, but none in his last 12 innings.

"His command has been terrific," said Torre. "He makes it look -- I don't want to say easy -- but simple. And that's the thing that's been escaping our club -- getting deep into the game. He's got us to the seventh inning each time."

As for Padilla, trainer Stan Conte said a follow-up MRI was taken of the radial nerve in his right arm, which put him on the disabled list April 23, and it was "totally normal. The nerve has completely calmed down."

Padilla, the club's Opening Day starter, played catch Wednesday for the second time in three days, but the club doesn't expect him back until sometime in June.

Furcal hitless in latest rehab assignment

PHOENIX -- Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal went 0-for-2 with a walk and strikeout Wednesday in the second game of a Minor League rehabilitation assignment for Class A Inland Empire at Lake Elsinore.

Furcal also grounded into a forceout and played shortstop for six innings in the game. He went 0-for-2 with a walk and strikeout Tuesday night as well.

Furcal is expected to take Thursday off, then rejoin the Dodgers and be activated Friday night when they open a three-game series in San Diego. Furcal has been on the disabled list for two weeks with a slight left hamstring strain.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.