Russell Martin likely out for year
LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre said before Thursday night's game with the San Diego Padres he will operate on the assumption that catcher Russell Martin will miss the rest of the season because of the hip injury Martin suffered while trying to score from third on a sacrifice fly Tuesday night.
"It looks like it will be the rest of the year," Torre said. "Right now, I'm more concerned with having him be able to get back to full health and be able to do this again. ... Considering he is going to be on crutches for three weeks and three weeks from now is Sept. 1, I think it's pretty safe to say he won't be back."
Martin wasn't ready to make such a definitive statement about himself, but he did acknowledge that he will put more emphasis on his long-term recovery than on the short-term needs of the club.
"I'm not thinking about anything like [the chances of coming back this year] right now," Martin said. "I just want to be healthy and be able to play baseball. ... I'm going to listen to every single thing they tell me to do and follow it to the letter."
Meanwhile, the Dodgers' medical staff was awaiting the results of a CT scan Martin underwent on Thursday morning before determining the next step. Martin's injury might require surgery, which would almost certainly end his season, but there is a strong chance he won't be back this year even if he doesn't need surgery.
Martin injured his right hip after crossing home plate standing up as he was tagged out by Padres catcher Nick Hundley in the second inning of Tuesday night's game. As his momentum carried him to the seam between the edge of the dirt circle and the grass, Martin turned to look back and planted his right foot awkwardly, with his knee locked, sending a shock wave all the way through his leg to the ball-and-socket of his hip joint.
That impact pushed the ball to the top of the socket, where it hit the surrounding labrum with such force that the labrum tore. That tear exposed the bone of the socket, and the force of the ball hitting the top of the socket also caused a hairline fracture that is expected to heal on its own, independent of any rehabilitation program, while Martin is on crutches.
It is the tear in the labrum that could necessitate surgery.
"Russ had a traumatic injury," Dodgers trainer Stan Conte said, meaning as opposed to a degenerative hip injury. "We'll go through a process with him. This is a very significant injury, so we want to be absolutely sure that we're treating it correctly."
Martin's injury is different from the hip injury that caused New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez to miss the first month of the 2009 season because Martin's injury is traumatic, meaning it occurred as the result of a single incident, where Rodriguez's was degenerative, meaning it occurred over time.
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Martin's injury also is different from the hip injury that ended both the baseball and football careers of Bo Jackson because in Jackson's case, the ball of his hip joint was pushed up into the labrum and socket so forcefully that it also severed the vessel supplying blood to the joint, causing vascular necrosis. Because Martin didn't experience vascular necrosis, once he has fully healed, his hip should be as good as new.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers will proceed for the time being with Brad Ausmus and A.J. Ellis sharing time, roughly equally, behind the plate, a situation Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said he was comfortable with for the moment.
"As of right now, yes, but like with any other position, if we have a chance to improve it and it makes sense ... we'll do it," Colletti said. "I'm not worried about either one of our catchers right now being able to play in the big leagues. Brad is one of the all-time best. A.J. has been waiting for an opportunity and probably could have been here a year ago."
Torre echoed Colletti's sentiments on Ausmus and Ellis. Torre also said the fact Colletti traded top catching prospect Lucas May to the Kansas City Royals last week for Scott Podsednik and the fact the Dodgers no longer appear to have any strong catching prospects at the upper levels of their minor league system doesn't exacerbate the situation.
"We can't be concerned about something that might happen that we have no solution to," Torre said. "I just don't choose to concern myself with that. ... Lucas May certainly wouldn't have been able to do this at this level. He couldn't have helped us this year."
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.