Martin gets day off; Torre shuffles lineup
Dodgers backstop has struggled since Manny's arrival
ST. LOUIS -- Joe Torre's plan coming into this series was to give catcher Russell Martin Thursday's day game off, but Torre used the opportunity to also tweak the batting order.
Torre said he's considering moving Manny Ramirez from cleanup to the No. 3 spot. For this game, however, he had Jeff Kent batting third ahead of Ramirez. Kent was the cleanup hitter until being displaced by the acquisition of Ramirez and has since been batting fifth and sixth.
In the five games of the Manny Era, Martin had batted third ahead of Ramirez, and it hadn't gone well -- 5-for-22 with seven strikeouts and four runs scored.
"Right now, [Martin's] fighting in certain situations," said Torre. "He's not afraid of the field, but sometimes he gets revved up. There's still some experience that needs to take place there. He gets outside himself. It's nothing more than aggressiveness, more of a controlled aggression. He needs to set parameters. He has the ability to hit to the other side of the infield and should be able to thrive in that situation."
The struggles of Martin in front of him in the lineup -- as well as a new team, a new league and relatively unfamiliar ballparks -- haven't stopped Ramirez from batting .600 with three home runs since his arrival.
"He's a frightening hitter," said Torre. "He makes such a difference. Whether he hits or not, he's there and they try to stay away from him."
Almost lost in the frenzy over Ramirez has been the production of newcomer Casey Blake, hitting .375 as a Dodger with seven of 15 hits for extra bases. Torre said he resisted the temptation to move Blake up in the order. He has hit second once and fifth twice, but has been sixth or seventh mostly as a Dodger and hit sixth Thursday.
Torre said he and the coaching staff have considered Cardinals manager Tony La Russa's preference for batting his best slugger, Albert Pujols, third, the pitcher eighth and putting a speedster, in St. Louis' case former Dodgers shortstop Cesar Izturis, ninth. That way, Pujols bats in the first inning and in subsequent at-bats he is preceded by three position hitters.
"We're flirting with a number of things, even moving Manny to third," said Torre. "The nine-hole hitter gives you three guys to get on. We would have [Juan] Pierre batting ninth. We haven't gone there yet."
Torre said he had not yet heard from Major League Baseball in response to Wednesday night's protest, but he was not very optimistic it would be upheld.
"The protest was based on a judgment. And usually when it's based on judgment it's a moot situation," he said.
He also said Scott Proctor's injured elbow was improving, but he was not expecting injured pitcher Jason Schmidt to appear in a Major League game this year
"A lot would have to happen in a hurry for him to pitch for us at this level," Torre said of Schmidt, whose comeback from shoulder surgery 14 months ago has been plagued with repeated setbacks.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.