Ken Gurnick reported today from spring training today that veteran catcher Russell Martin’a sore back would be keeping him from the action just a few more days.
Russell Martin’s return from sore back pushed to the weekend, recovering slower than hoped.
— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) March 4, 2019
This is a slight change of pace from the day before, where the plan was to get him back into the action and behind the plate sooner than the weekend.
On Sunday, Dave Roberts mentioned that the club was being cautious about Russell Martin and expected him "to be back" after Tuesday.
On Monday he pushed that back a week. pic.twitter.com/gzdtzk8ZAX
— Dodgers Nation (@DodgersNation) March 5, 2019
This is to be expected. Russell Martin wasn’t brought to the Dodgers for his youthfulness, he was brought for his veteran leadership and his ability to get on base. Catchers play an often thankless position, at his age soreness in any part of the body is to be expected. Dodger fans who were not fans of Martin’s addition will surely groan “I told you so” loud enough for all of Dodgers Nation to hear. This is an overreaction, though.
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Significance and Options
The Dodgers brought Russell Martin on with the full knowledge that the catcher position would likely be a time-share. Austin Barnes’ is a top 3 defensive and framing catcher in MLB. His offensive shortcomings of 2018 not withstanding, the two of them are perfect splits for this position. Russell Martin will be just fine.
Should Russell’s back continue to be an issue, the Dodgers have a myriad of options behind the dish.
Rocky Gale has MLB experience, and is on the 40-man roster. He wouldn’t need an adjustment period. He’s plug in and play. Will Smith or Keibert Ruiz could also crack the opening day roster, under the right circumstances. As it stands, both of the young catchers are expected to remain with the club well into the spring.
While Ruiz has a higher ceiling, but it’s mostly agreed that Will Smith is closest to MLB ready. We could see him get jiggy with it behind the plate should there be an extended absence from Russell Martin.
The Dodgers are not without options, and the front office has known this from day one.