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Martin sits and ponders future

SAN DIEGO 3 DODGERS 1

Catcher, who is recovering from a season-ending hip injury, says he wants to remain with the Dodgers.

September 23, 2010|Dylan Hernandez

Russell Martin sat on one of the two black recliners on the back end of the silent clubhouse, playing video games on a hand-held device.

"It's tough," he said. "It's boring. A lot of downtime."

The Dodgers' 3-1 defeat to the San Diego Padres on Wednesday night was the 45th consecutive game sat out by Martin, who suffered a season-ending hip injury Aug. 3.

Martin got off crutches last week and appears likely to avoid surgery, but is a long way from returning to the field. His already uncertain future became even more uncertain because of the injury, as the .248-hitting catcher's status as an arbitration-eligible player would almost certainly guarantee him a raise from his $5.05-million salary if the Dodgers decide to tender him a contract this winter.

Among the Dodgers' options: tender him a contract, non-tender him and let him become a free agent or trade him.

Martin made his preference clear. He wants to remain a Dodger.

"Of course," he said.

He said he hasn't thought much about the possibility that he could be playing elsewhere next year.

"I don't like to think ahead too much, you know?" Martin said.

The last day for teams to tender contracts to players under their control is Dec. 12, meaning the Dodgers will get to monitor how he is progressing in his rehabilitation before deciding whether to keep him.

Asked whether he would consider signing a contract before the tender deadline so that the Dodgers could assure themselves of avoiding a potentially costly arbitration process, Martin replied, "I have to discuss that with my agent."

Martin, who has been lifting weights and recently started performing basic leg exercises, said he is scheduled to get his right hip scanned again in November. He hasn't been told when he can start running.

Martin acknowledged that this winter will be an important one for him. A two-time All-Star at the age of 25, he has seen his offensive production decline significantly in the last two seasons. He will turn 28 in February.

"It's probably going to be my best off-season," he said. "I have no choice but to get back to where I want to be. I have no choice but to kick it up."

Oh, you want to know about the game?

Ted Lilly had one of his better performances of the last month, but couldn't prevent his winless streak from growing to five starts.

Lilly, who dropped his fourth consecutive decision, held the Padres to three runs and eight hits over seven innings. The only walk he issued was intentional.

All three of the runs charged to Lilly came in the third inning. Throwing errors by Rafael Furcal and James Loney on the same play allowed Chase Headley to score from second base on an infield single by David Eckstein, which was followed by a two-run home run by Miguel Tejada.

Lilly, who was 4-0 with a 1.29 earned-run average in his first four starts with the Dodgers, was 1-3 with a 7.09 ERA in his previous five outings.

The Dodgers were held to three hits and fell to six games under .500 for only the second time this season. The first time was April 29, when they were 8-14.

The loss was the Dodgers' sixth in a row against the Padres, who moved half a game ahead of San Francisco to take over the lead in the National League West.

Short hops

Dodgers Manager Joe Torre is taking the role of spoiler seriously. Clayton Kershaw's next start was pushed up from Saturday to Sunday, which will allow the left-hander to face the playoff-contending Colorado Rockies on Wednesday in the final game of their three-game series. ... Former manager Tom Lasorda turned 83 and was honored in a pregame ceremony.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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