Martin taking better swings at plate

Martin taking better swings at plate

ANAHEIM -- Joe Torre played against his brother Frank, so he's not caught up in the sentimentality of Saturday's Weaver sibling showdown, nor does he get emotional about Interleague Play.

He views Saturday's game with the Angels, then, as just another test against a very good team, and that's plenty motivation.

Although the Dodgers lost the opener to this series Friday night, Torre saw something he liked, but hadn't seen in a while -- good at-bats from catcher Russell Martin.

"He looks a lot more comfortable to me," Torre said of Martin, whose only hit on the Dodgers' immediately preceding three-game homestand didn't leave the infield.

"Today I felt good," said Martin, who brought a .111 June average into the series, but singled leading off the third inning and scored the Dodgers' first run Friday night.

"I just feel like I'm putting a better swing on the ball, I'm recognizing the pitches earlier. I've been working on a lot of things with [batting coach Don Mattingly] in the cage. It takes a while for things to click."

The Dodgers have struggled through Martin's slump, Torre consistently starting the catcher because of his solid defense and game-calling. That was on display in this game, as he picked Angels leadoff man Chone Figgins off first base in the fifth inning.

Martin, who clearly has been pulling off pitches as his average has plummeted, also bounced back to the pitcher, flied to center and was walked intentionally.

"You get into bad habits -- they're hard to break, but you keep working on it," he said. "Today, I felt more relaxed and more comfortable. I feel like I'm in a good position to hit, and when you feel that way physically, it's easier mentally. I was kind of up there battling, not feeling good. Tonight, my hands were getting through the zone quicker."

Torre said he does not intend to give Martin a day off until Thursday's day game in Chicago, and had not decided who would be his designated hitter Saturday night. In Friday night's game, Mitch Jones served the role. He struck out twice, was grazed by a pitch and was lifted in the eighth inning for pinch-hitter Mark Loretta, who walked.

Pitching matchup
LAD: RHP Jeff Weaver (3-1, 3.72 ERA)
Weaver is expected to make his first start since May 20 because injured starter Eric Stults will not by ready, and Eric Milton isn't eligible to come off the disabled list until Sunday. Weaver will be starting against his brother, Jered. It will mark the first time the two brothers have pitched against each other.

LAA: RHP Jered Weaver (7-2, 2.08 ERA)
Turning up the heat in his bid for his first All-Star Game appearance, Weaver is coming off the first complete-game shutout of his career, a dominant five-hit effort against the Padres at home on Sunday. He walked one man while striking out five. The crossfiring right-hander has yielded just 10 earned runs in his past 89 2/3 innings, yielding one or no runs in six of his past eight starts. Weaver has pitched brilliantly in the past against the Dodgers, going 3-1 with a 1.59 ERA in five starts.

Although James Loney has only three home runs, he also leads the club with 45 RBIs. ... Rafael Furcal has hits in 10 of his last 11 games. ... The Dodgers will host the sixth annual Father's Day Catch presented by Macy's this Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. PT. The event is free and will provide families the opportunity to spend time on the field at Dodger Stadium to celebrate the holiday. Fans can enter the field through the center-field gates, and parking at Dodger Stadium is free. Macy's will provide soft souvenir baseballs.

 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• KABC 790, KHJ 930 (Español)

Up next
• Sunday: Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw, 3-5, 4.13) at Angels (John Lackey, 2-2, 6.10), 5:05 p.m. PT
• Monday: Off-day
• Tuesday: Dodgers (Hiroki Kuroda, 1-3, 3.86) at White Sox (TBD), 5:11 p.m. PT

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