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Slumping Martin batting eighth

Slumping Martin batting eighth

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers All-Star catcher Russell Martin's hitting slump landed him Wednesday night in the No. 8 spot of the batting order, which is where he spent most of his rookie season of 2006.

"It's not a penalty. Maybe he'll work on his patience," said manager Joe Torre. "He's not afraid, we all know that. He just gets overwhelmed with aggressiveness. By looking and watching, I don't think it's fatigue. He's had days off."

Martin started the season 1-for-19, hit .356 in May to get his average to a season-high .326 on May 31 and was as high as .312 on July 1. But in the past six weeks, he's hit .220. Most recently he's 1-for-16, although it took a diving catch by Phillies second baseman Chase Utley to rob Martin of an RBI hit Tuesday night.

"I'm just giving my best and that's the attitude I'm try to carry every day," said Martin. "Nothing much else I can do. It's all about winning. What I do personally I couldn't care less. As long as we play well as a team and win ballgames, that's the most important."

Overall, Martin is batting .284 with 10 homers and 53 RBIs, but he's hit only one homer since July 1 and driven in only one run in 38 August at-bats entering Wednesday.

The immediate suspicion, which Torre addressed, is that Martin is run down from the demands of catching. Through the first 119 games, Martin has started 102 games behind the plate, seven at third base, one as designated hitter and has not started nine times. Through 119 games a year ago, Martin had started 107 games at catcher, two at designated hitter and not started 10 times.

Last year, August was Martin's most productive month, as he batted .300 with a .432 on-base percentage and .511 slugging percentage, but his numbers slipped noticeably in September.

Against the right-handed Joe Blanton on Wednesday, Torre returned Andre Ethier to the lineup, with James Loney behind Manny Ramirez, followed by Casey Blake, Nomar Garciaparra and Martin.

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

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