Russell Martin Sidelined With Back Soreness

The Dodgers look like they will be turning to some of their backup catching options over the next couple of games. Russell Martin will be held out of games over the weekend due to soreness in his back. Dave Roberts made the announcement on Saturday.

It looks like Martin may have aggravated his back overdoing it in the batting cages over the last couple of days. The Dodgers turned to Rocky Gale to start Saturday’s game at Salt River against the Diamondbacks instead.

Martin had been having a relatively average spring up to this point, with two hits in his limited eight at-bats. He was signed on as a replacement for Yasmani Grandal who departed via free agency to Milwaukee.

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The plan up to this point has been to utilize a tandem of Russell Martin and Austin Barnes behind the plate this year. Both of those guys suffered through pretty terrible offensive seasons in 2018, but Martin did show signs of promise. He put up a positive 1.3 WAR despite hitting a lowly 194, mostly because of his high on base percentage.

The team will utilize him as a designated hitter before putting him back behind the plate this Spring.

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Written by Brook Smith

Brook is the Senior Editor of Dodgers Nation, with several years of experience in sports journalism. He is an avid Dodgers and Lakers fan, and can be spotted fairly often at Dodger Stadium and Staples Center.


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  1. This may be a lingering problem for Martin and the Dodgers, 36yr. old playing the catcher position. Include all the foul-tips from balls, hitters back-swing, blocking balls in the dirt, not good.

  2. Well I am 67 almost 68. 36 is not old give the guy a break he has been excited to be back in Dodger Blue and has been working hard, according to reports, to address his hitting problems the last couple of years. Hitting is a lot of torque on the lower back give the guy some slack. Lots of commenters go negative immediately but so many people see the glass as half empty.

    Granted catching takes a physical toll. Martin has not played a lot the last year or two so he is not that beat up. Let’s allow him the Spring to train which is what it is supposed to be used for before you throw him under the bus….

    • tmaxster, you misunderstood my statement. When I said 36yr.old, I didn’t mean old as in human terms, I was referring to baseball and the positiion he would be playing. If Martin is already having back issues so early in the marathon of a baseball season i.e. spring training, regular season and hopefully post season, this is what I meant in terms of a “lingering problem for Martin and the Dodgers.”

      • The Dodgers understood who they were getting and also decided that he and Barnes will be the catchers pretty much at the outset no matter what. I only hope the rest of the lineup can make up for what Dodgers may not be able to expect with the offense from these 2 catchers.

        • That’s the thing. It’s ok to be weak offensively at catcher as long as the other positions are strong because you can just put these two guys 8th and all is well, but it remains to be seen what offensive output we get from the other positions

          • I have indicated somewhere yesterday that Dodgers as of now anyway do not appear to be as good (offensively especially) as they were in 2017 and part of 2018. Again, while I don’t want to appear to be repeating this but even with Pollock in CF as a RHB, Dodgers are STILL too LH dominant as far as run producers go and it also, as was suggested by another poster, they are a bit LH heavy in the pitching department. At least at the outset of this year I would be very surprised if Dodgers are not facing that many LHP.

        • These things to happen during ST for most teams, however it does appear that thaey happen with the Dodgers a bit more frequent. But, N0DH, Dodgers , as I said decided to go this direction as far as having Barnes, martin be the catchers at the outset. I would guess they realize they honestly cannot expect much in the way of offense from these 2 but better defense. Grandal’s offense as a LHB will not be replaced. We certainly won’t miss Grandal as a RHB

          • Hopefully the fact we’re weak at catcher motivated Barnes to get back to his 2017 form

    • Robin, maybe, maybe not and that 8th spot might end up being a platoon spot. Since the DH is in the AL and that won’t change, eventually the NL should have it so that the leagues are playing the same or similar brand of baseball. Having a DH in the NL would CERTAINLY be a benefit to a team like the Dodgers.

  3. What did they expect from a 36 year old catcher? Even without Realmuto there were several other catchers available, Wilson Ramos for one. He was not expensive and he is much better than the two we have. So, now it is down to Barnes, journeyman Rocky Gale and the not yet ready for prime time Keibert Ruiz. C’mon man!

  4. hmmmm…wonder if they gave him a physical……..does that mean that they might have to bring up a catcher before next year and they will be qualified upon arrival? how did barnes get “qualified” to be a starter and bat .200 and not throw out runners?…..did grandahl fold or did he fall out of favor?

  5. If Kershaw is in fact healthy I would bat him 8th at this point. He hit .239 last year and handles the bat well.

  6. Paul, I agree having more lefties than righties is a problem I was just busting balls that one day lol. However if they can learn to hit both handedness it wouldn’t be as big a problem. I think Bellinger is a guy who cares enough to improve but they gotta give him enough at bats to prove it and not platoon him

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