Dodgers give Martin well-earned rest
Catcher had started 22 consecutive games
LOS ANGELES -- Russell Martin didn't protest this time, even with the longest active hit streak in the Majors.
The Dodgers catcher was not in the lineup Friday night for the opener of a three-game series with the Tigers at Dodger Stadium, just the sixth game he has not started this season. Martin is in the midst of a career-high 15-game hit streak and is batting .268 with four home runs and 12 RBIs.
Manny Ramirez, who missed the past two games, returned to the lineup Friday and batted third, but the Dodgers went without two other regulars. James Loney, in a 2-for-18 stretch over his past five games, and Blake DeWitt both sat against Tigers southpaw Dontrelle Willis.
Manager Joe Torre had looked to give Martin days off on previous weekends, but Martin then was adamant he was able to go.
"We talked about it before the game Thursday and he was a little tired," Torre said. "I wanted him to catch [Clayton] Kershaw, so we gave him the game tonight."
Martin had started 22 straight games, and his 323 2/3 innings behind the plate rank second in the National League to only the Cardinals' Yadier Molina, who has caught 329 innings. Even when Martin does rest, he still gets into games: He's only missed one entirely and is available to pinch-hit Friday.
"He's such a high-energy guy, he really drains himself a lot," Torre said. "He's done a great job, knock on wood. We keep him healthy, he's going to be a big plus for our pitching staff."
Furcal could return to Dodgers on Sunday
LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal will head to extended spring training at Camelback Ranch in Arizona on Saturday and could be activated as early as Sunday, Dodgers manager Joe Torre said.
Furcal, who last played on April 27, won't see much resembling Major League-caliber pitching in Arizona, but he will be able to test his hamstring in game situations.
"Only thing we're concerned about is stuff that may surprise his body, quick moves whether it's at shortstop or out of the box," Torre said. "One game is certainly not enough to get his timing, he'll have to get that here."
The Dodgers didn't want to send Furcal to Triple-A Albuquerque or Class A Inland Empire because the team can control the game action in extended spring training, potentially giving Furcal a look at as many or as few situations as it deems necessary.
Furcal could be in the lineup Sunday for a 1:10 p.m. PT start against the Tigers at Dodger Stadium, or he may not play until Tuesday in Chicago after an off-day Monday.
Jamey Carroll, 2-for-3 on Thursday night, has hit .309 since Furcal went down and will return to his normal reserve role once Furcal returns.
"What a great job he's done," Torre said. "He's about as good a team player as I've been around."
Kershaw gets Tuesday nod in Cubs opener
LOS ANGELES -- Manager Joe Torre said Clayton Kershaw will start for the Dodgers on Tuesday in the opener of a three-game series with the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
Once the Dodgers move to Coors Field for a weekend series with the Rockies, Torre will need to name a starter to take the fifth spot in the rotation, at least for one start. Ramon Ortiz (1-2, 6.30 ERA) had filled the role the past two times through, but lasted a combined 7 1/3 innings and allowed eight in two starts.
Kershaw (4-2, 3.23) has allowed just two runs during his past three starts, all wins and a 22 1/3-inning span. He allowed one run in 7 1/3 innings Thursday night in a 4-1 win over the Padres at Dodger Stadium.
Astronaut dials Torre from long distance
LOS ANGELES -- Joe Torre was in his clubhouse office Friday afternoon when the cell phone rang. Caller ID indicated a Houston area code, but this call originated well beyond that.
"They called from the Space Station," the Dodgers manager said. "Pretty awesome."
It was astronaut Garrett Reisman, calling from the International Space Station 200 miles above Earth, telling Torre that while he was stranded on a spacewalk Thursday by a power failure, he had Torre's 2000 World Series ring in his spacesuit pocket.
"Donnie [Mattingly] and I each gave them one of our jerseys to take up there and I gave him the 2000 ring, figuring it's the 10th anniversary," said Torre. "Pretty cool to know they took that up in space."
Torre met Reisman in Las Vegas and last year was given a tour of NASA's Johnson Space Center while the Dodgers were in Houston.
Reisman had Friday's call routed through Johnson Space Center. He's a specialist on the shuttle Atlantis' final mission that launched a week ago and will return -- with the gear of Torre and Mattingly -- May 26.
Evan Drellich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.