Martin rests as Dodgers face Cook
Struggling backstop sits vs. Rockies antagonist
DENVER -- For the second time in a week, the Dodgers faced Colorado starter Aaron Cook. And for the second time, Russell Martin was on the bench.
Martin is 1-for-18 in his career against Cook. Dodgers manager Joe Torre said he planned to give Martin one day off during this three-game series with the Rockies and Friday night's game against Cook made the most sense.
"[Martin] doesn't handle [Cook], and the three-game series [just completed in Houston] was grueling," said Torre, who started veteran Brad Ausmus behind the plate.
Martin didn't argue.
"When I face him, I kind of help him out," Martin said of Cook. "He throws sinkers and I swing at balls. Sinkers are a lot easier to catch than to hit."
Martin said he's learning to make the most of days off.
"It's more a mental day off than anything," said the catcher, who tied for the Major League lead with 149 games caught last year. "Give me one day off against a guy I don't have much success against makes a lot of sense. I've learned to relax when I don't play. I used to be more active, running after ground balls in the infield, chasing balls in the outfield. That kind of adds up.
"I want to finish strong this year, that's my idea. I don't want to have peaks and plateaus and downward slopes that I've had the last couple of years."
On the other hand, Martin was hoping for a better start to the year than he's had. A career .285 hitter, he's batting .226 with no homers, six RBIs and only three extra-base hits. He also has 15 strikeouts, tied for the club lead with Matt Kemp. He's on pace to strike out 150 times this year after only 83 whiffs last year.
"I don't feel like I'm locked in quite yet," Martin said. "I still don't feel the way I want to feel. I'm seeing the ball well. I might be pressing a little bit. For me, I'm battling, but that's what I always do."
Torre said he hasn't seen anything dramatically different from Martin than a year ago, when he was hitting .193 after 17 games. Martin has come to bat with 49 runners on base, driving in just six.
"Right now, he's too intense," Torre said. "But my observation is he's not trying to pull the ball. He's not swinging too hard. He'll fall into it. I'm not worried about him. He's come up with a lot of runners on base and has a tendency to make more of it than there is. His approach is fine. The execution isn't consistent. It would be more of a problem if he was trying to hit every pitch out of the park."
Torre said he might rest infielders Rafael Furcal and Casey Blake on Sunday.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.