Torre can’t let Martin sit

Times Staff Writer

Joe Torre is already well versed in the dilemma that confronted predecessor Grady Little this time of year with Russell Martin.

The Dodgers manager wants to rest the catcher occasionally to keep him fresh, yet he finds it difficult to make out a lineup that doesn’t include arguably his team’s most indispensable player.

“I can understand where Grady had problems sitting him down,” Torre said before the Dodgers played the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium.


Torre acknowledged that he “may be pushing the envelope at this point and time” after penciling in Martin for his eighth start of the season at third base and 116th start in 126 games overall. Martin started 143 games last season and repeatedly has said he would never ask for a day off.

Although Martin’s batting average had dipped to .237 this month before the game, Torre said he did not think Martin was showing signs of fatigue.

“I think he’s fighting himself more than he’s tired,” said Torre, who started Danny Ardoin at catcher. “I don’t see the slow bat. I see lack of selectivity.”

With Martin starting the game at third base, Torre moved Casey Blake to first base in place of James Loney, who was hitting .067 (one for 15) against Rockies starter Jeff Francis.

Conversely, Torre started Juan Pierre in center field because he was hitting .481 (13 for 27) against Francis before Wednesday.

Bennett helps with clinic

Steve Smith, vice president of the Taylor Hooton Foundation, spoke to a group of 100 children Wednesday afternoon at Dodger Stadium about the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs, but Dodgers reserve catcher Gary Bennett did not.


Bennett was named in the Mitchell Report and later admitted using human growth hormone to help recover from a sprained knee in 2003 while playing for the San Diego Padres. Bennett ran an agility drill on the warning track as part of the steroid awareness clinic but did not address his experiences with performance-enhancing drugs.

“I told them whatever they wanted me to do, I would do,” Bennett said of event organizers. “Obviously, what happened happened, so I’d be more than happy to” talk about it.

Dodgers assistant trainer Todd Tomczyk, who helped coordinate the event, said he “didn’t even think of having him speak, so if anything it was my blunder that didn’t happen.”

Major League Baseball has pledged $1.5 million to the Taylor Hooton Foundation, named in honor of the high school baseball player who hanged himself two days before his 17th birthday in 2003 after suffering severe depression as a result of steroid use.

Short hops

Reliever Tanyon Sturtze, on making his first major league appearance Tuesday since May 2006: “I felt like a rookie again.” Sturtze, who last pitched for the New York Yankees before undergoing major shoulder surgery, pitched a scoreless inning in his Dodgers debut. . . . Andruw Jones is expected to continue his minor league rehabilitation assignment with triple-A Las Vegas tonight after sustaining a sore right knee when he stepped in a hole in the outfield Monday while chasing a fly ball. He is hitting .333 with two homers and two runs batted in in three games. . . . During a question-and-answer session at the steroid clinic, one child asked Pierre if Manny Ramirez took his spot. “He took everyone’s spot,” Pierre said.