Ramon Martinez may be the same guy who has pitched for the Dodgers the last seven seasons, but now he has the most lucrative contract of any pitcher in Dodger history and expectations may be up.
"I hope they just respect what I can do," Martinez said. "They expect another good year out of me, and that's what I'm trying to do. . . . I hope people don't say just because I make a big salary, I should do more."
Martinez, the winning pitcher in the Dodgers' 13-5 exhibition victory Thursday over the Houston Astros, signed a three-year, $15-million contract, after coming close to signing with the Florida Marlins.
"They wanted me so bad," Martinez said. "They gave me a big contract offer and wanted me to sign right then. I told my agent to get an offer from the Dodgers, because that was my first choice.
"Believe me, it was close."
How valuable is shortstop Greg Gagne? He was fined $200 worth of postgame chicken in the players' kangaroo court for being late, and the pitching staff immediately offered to pick up the fine. . . . Left fielder Todd Hollandsworth took a giant step toward the starting job by hitting a grand slam off Astro starter Darryl Kile in the first inning, and driving in five runs. . . . The Astros have inquired about the availability of third baseman Dave Hansen, but the Dodgers plan to keep him.
Joey Eischen will get a shot at the fifth starter's job when he starts in the A game Monday against the New York Mets. . . . The Marlins are a bit perturbed with the Dodgers, who are pitching Hideo Nomo in today's B game in Melbourne. The Marlins will not be able to charge admission for that game and, even if they could, there is no seating at the auxiliary field. . . . Third base coach Joey Amalfitano was elected to the national Italian-American sports hall of fame.