Many baseball people say that Martin's bat plays at
the corner position with more power than any other
third base candidate the Dodgers have played there
this year. His arm strength, release, athleticism and
infield experience all parlay nicely to third.
Torre, a former catcher himself, said that when he played
first base instead of catching, it seemed like a
vacation to him. He also played third base later in
"Playing first base [was] like a day off because
you're looking around for your responsibility, but
it's all about catching the ball and hitting," Torre
said. "It was a day off for me when I did that."
And he's kept an eye on Martin's pregame routine.
"He's taken ground balls," Torre said. "If you watch
him during batting practice he'll be at shortstop and
third base. He'll move all over the place. He can
play infield. Plus, he's taken so many balls over
there that he'd be comfortable."
Torre said that his first option at third past Blake
DeWitt right now -- with Nomar Garciaparra on the
disabled list for the second time this season, this
time with an injured left calf -- would be rookie
"The first option would probably be Hu, but again, if
I started a game and you say you want to [sit] DeWitt
against a tough left-hander or something like that,
you may have to," Torre said. "Or if it's a Sunday
when [Jeff] Kent's not playing. You may wind up with that
offense in there."
Martin entered Sunday's game on his first significant
offensive streak of the 2008 season. He had reached
base in 20 of his last 29 plate appearances. During
that span, Martin is hitting .558 (10-for-18) with
nine walks and a sacrifice fly. In his first at-bat on
Sunday, he worked a walk out of Colorado left-hander
Jeff Francis to extend that streak to reaching base in
21 of his last 30.
"When you're catching, it's not just physical, the
mental part of the game is huge," Martin said. "You're
always involved. So to get a mental breather by
playing third base, for me, I like it. I played third
my whole life before I got converted in 2002. That was
my main position. I'm comfortable there. I take ground
balls at short everyday. You don't lose that defense.
It's like riding a bicycle."