Conditioning, approach key to Martin's start

Conditioning, approach key to Martin's start

WASHINGTON -- Dodgers catcher Russell Martin, who had the go-ahead RBI single in the 13th inning of Saturday's game, credits three factors for his fast start offensively.

Martin said that he's stronger after a rigorous offseason training regimen that added bulk; he has a better grasp of hitting coach Don Mattingly's swing approach that keeps the bat in the hitting zone longer; and he benefited from extra conditioning he did in Spring Training while sidelined by a strained right groin muscle.

"I do feel good," said Martin, who is hitting .308 this year after hitting .250 last year. "The gain in strength helped, for sure, and all that work in Spring Training added to that. And last year was just a weird year."

Manager Joe Torre was asked if Martin looks more like the offensive player he was told about when he took over than the one he managed in 2008-09.

"Right now, he's the player his ability tells you he can be," said Torre. "He's hitting line drives to all fields. When he hit 19 homers [in 2007], he got so long in the swing he took a lot of the stuff he does out of play. When he keeps his swing compact, he's dangerous. He'll hit some home runs, but that's not a big part of his game. He'll be productive."

Torre said Martin's offensive game reminds him of Nationals catcher Ivan Rodriguez.

"There are a lot of similarities with him and Russell," Torre said. "Pudge always uses the whole field."