The Dodgers placed catcher Russell Martin on the 10-day injured list Wednesday because of lower-back inflammation and recalled catcher Rocky Gale from triple-A Oklahoma City to take his place on the roster.
Martin has dealt with back trouble, most recently during spring training. The previous recurrence forced him to sit out several Cactus League games. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said the pain resurfaced this week when he bent over to field a groundball during pregame warmups. Martin often takes groundballs at shortstop or third base before games he’s not starting at catcher. He last played in the Dodgers’ loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday. He went 0 for 3 with a hit by pitch and played the entire game. He is five for 15 with five walks in six games this season.
“From what he says, it typically takes him a week to get back,” Roberts said. “So, for us, it was a no-brainer with the IL and hopefully to get him back when he’s available.”
The Dodgers acquired the 36-year-old Martin, who began his career with the organization, from the Toronto Blue Jays for two minor leaguers in January after he batted .194 with a .663 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 90 games in 2018. The Dodgers are paying $3.6 million of the $20 million he is owed in the final year of his contract. The Blue Jays are paying the balance.
Roberts said the Dodgers chose Gale over Will Smith, a 24-year-old top catching prospect also with Oklahoma City, because they want Smith to continue accumulating at-bats in the minors. Gale is also already on the 40-man roster and Smith isn’t. Roberts cited the 31-year-old Gale’s receiving and game-calling abilities as his strengths. Austin Barnes will assume the bulk of the playing time behind the plate. Gale’s starts likely will be limited to day games after night games.
Gale played in two games for Oklahoma City this season before the promotion. He’s appeared in 17 major league games over three seasons, including three for the Dodgers last season after beginning his career in the San Diego Padres organization.
Kershaw to debut Sunday or Monday
Roberts said Clayton Kershaw emerged from his rehab start Tuesday with double-A Tulsa healthy and remains scheduled to make his season debut at Dodger Stadium either Sunday or Monday. Kershaw gave up two runs — both on solo home runs — in 5 1/3 innings for Tulsa. He threw 81 pitches, had six strikeouts and didn’t issue a walk. The left-hander, who began the season on the injured list because of shoulder inflammation, rejoined the Dodgers before Wednesday night’s game against the Cardinals.
Rich Hill is slated to pitch in a simulated game Friday at Dodger Stadium before making a rehab start with a minor league affiliate. The left-hander sprained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee March 17. He began the season on the injured list and has since thrown two bullpen sessions. Hill threw 41 pain-free pitches in his second session Tuesday. … Hyun-Jin Ryu, who was placed on the injured list Tuesday because of a strained left groin, played catch Wednesday and will pitch on flat ground Friday. He could throw a bullpen session a few days later. … Roberts said the team hasn’t decided who will start Saturday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers. The Dodgers have a vacancy after Ryu’s injury. Dennis Santana is a candidate. Stretched out as a starter, Santana joined the bullpen Monday. The Dodgers are carrying a nine-man bullpen after JT Chargois’ arrival Tuesday. … Drew Jackson, a Rule 5 pick by the Baltimore Orioles in December, cleared waivers and was returned to the Dodgers. Jackson, a 25-year-old utility player, appeared in two games for the Orioles. He batted .251 with 15 home runs and 22 steals for double-A Tulsa last season.