2/17/2014 6:12 P.M. ET
Martin soaking it all up at first big league camp
By Tyler Emerick and Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- On his first day of Spring Training this month, Dodgers pitching prospect Jarret Martin arrived to Camelback Ranch an hour before his scheduled report time. The 24-year-old left-hander, in big league camp for the first time this year, thought he'd be one of the first guys in the building.
As it turned out, he was one of the last.
"Yeah, that was like my first 'aha' moment where I knew it's going to be different up here," Martin said. "Now I get here two hours early. It took me one day to learn that."
Along with the other prospects getting their first taste of Major League camp, Martin figures to be learning a lot this spring. Sharing a clubhouse with the type of All-Star talent the Dodgers possess, he is aware of the opportunity before him, even though he knows that in all likelihood he'll begin the season in the Minors.
"It's an honor, there's no other word besides that," Martin said. "You see some of the names on this team and you want to pinch yourself. Being here with this franchise, it's a dream come true. These guys show up early and leave late, and I'm really trying to shadow what they do. It's a priceless experience."
It has been a whirlwind few months for Martin, who began last season as a starter only to be moved to the bullpen midway through June. The switch ended up being a turning point for the southpaw as he went from a 4.79 ERA in 14 starts for Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga to a 2.73 ERA in 26 relief appearances between the California League and Double-A Chattanooga.
Martin's strong finish to 2013 earned him a ticket to the Arizona Fall League and later a coveted spot on the Dodgers' 40-man roster as the club protected him from the Rule 5 Draft.
"That was very exciting. I felt like I had a pretty good year and done enough to be protected, but you never know," Martin said. "It was tough waiting, but once I got that phone call, it was a big relief. After that, I just started working again so I could be ready to show what I can do in the spring."
With his projected role in the Majors now clearly defined as a reliever, Martin is excited about having a full spring to prepare in the bullpen -- a luxury he didn't have last year and one he believes will propel him to a breakout 2014 campaign.
"It helps a lot to know what your job is going to be," Martin said. "I'm going to treat this spring like the regular season and try to build some momentum coming out of camp. I'm focusing on attacking hitters now. I had a few things click for me late last year, so I'm looking forward to trying it out against some big leaguers."
Koufax taking more casual role at Dodgers camp
GLENDALE, Ariz -- Donning a comfortable outfit made up of a blue Dodgers pullover, ballcap and wrinkled cargo shorts, legendary pitcher Sandy Koufax outlined the more informal role he will take with the club this spring and touched on a number of other topics after watching the team work out Monday at Camelback Ranch.
In his second season as special adviser to chairman Mark Walter, Koufax said he isn't sure how long he'll be in camp this year, but he knows he won't be in uniform with the rest of the Dodgers.
"That's not my job," he said. "A lot of times, I'll just talk to [pitching coach] Rick Honeycutt about what's happening. If Rick wants me to talk to somebody, I will. If somebody asks me to, I will. But basically, I'm just watching."
Added Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, "It sounds like he'll be in and out. He's doing what he wants, as he should be. Sandy doesn't want to be a distraction in any way. We're just really happy to have him around."
A celebrity who drew hundreds of autograph-hungry fans to his side Monday, Koufax also talked about the Dodgers' newest star in Yasiel Puig and the Cuban's much-discussed theatrics.
"If the showmanship doesn't involve bad decisions, it's fine," Koufax said. "I think people love it."
One thing Koufax would like to see Puig improve upon is his decision-making in the outfield and how to harness the rocket attached to his shoulder.
"You've got a great arm, you want to show it off, but you'd like to see it go to the right place all the time," Koufax said. "He's young, he hasn't played. I think the biggest thing is he hasn't played against competition as good as he is, so you're always able to have your physical ability make up for whatever else you did. He's learning. I'm sure it's going to happen. There's too much talent not to."
A three-time Cy Young Award winner, Koufax flew to New York last month to present Clayton Kershaw with his second Cy Young. The two Dodgers aces met again on Monday, and Koufax gave a glowing report on the 25-year-old.
"He's just a very special person -- a special pitcher, a special person," Koufax said. "If he keeps getting better, the sky's the limit, and if he doesn't get any better, the sky's still the limit."
Koufax also was asked if he thought the Dodgers and D-backs' recently heated rivalry might spill over into the season-opening series in Australia.
"Absolutely not," he said. "After that long on an airplane, you won't have a temper."
League using caution with mild lat strain
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers reliever Brandon League said he hopes to return to the mound Wednesday after a few days of reduced throwing because of a mild lat strain.
Manager Don Mattingly said the conservative throwing program for League is similar to the one prospect Zach Lee has been on since Spring Training opened.
"We don't think it's anything serious," Mattingly said. "But we want to be extra cautious, especially with the schedule we've got, we don't want anybody pushing it and winding up with something worse. Just like Zach, Brandon is feeling better and he's moving closer to getting back on the mound."
League said backing off is just "precautionary." He said he threw eight bullpen sessions before arriving in Arizona, more than usual in anticipation of the compressed training camp.
Lee, meanwhile, said he also plans to throw off a mound Wednesday. He strained a lat muscle doing pull-ups at last month's pitching mini-camp.