Dodgers catcher injured
Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Russell Martin is expected to miss opening day after an MRI revealed a pulled groin.
Martin first felt discomfort during a running drill a few days before the Dodgers' first spring game Friday. He started Friday's game against the White Sox and played five innings, even stealing a base.
"We don't know how long it's going to be," general manager Ned Colletti said yesterday in Mesa, Ariz., where Los Angeles' spring game against a Chicago Cubs split-squad was rained out. "It's four to six weeks right now but you know how that goes."
A.J. Ellis, who has just 13 career major league at-bats, will get the bulk of the catching duties with Martin out. The Dodgers also have veteran backup Brad Ausmus, who turns 41 in April.
Yesterday, Martin called his injury "a little strain," and said it wasn't a big deal. Moments later, manager Joe Torre said otherwise.
"We're going to send him back to L.A. to have another evaluation," Torre said. A team doctor "looked at the MRI and it's a groin pull. He played on it a couple of days thinking it was just spring training aches and pains."
Torre said Martin still can do strengthening exercises for his upper body and taking batting practice was a possibility.
Martin followed a diet and fitness regimen last winter that dropped him well below his regular 210-pound playing weight. But he struggled offensively last season, when his .250 batting average, seven homers and 53 RBIs all were career lows.
Closer Nathan will have elbow checked
Twins closer Joe Nathan is headed back to Minnesota to get his surgically repaired right elbow checked out.
Nathan says he felt fine while he was working out in Fort Myers, Fla., before spring training games. But there was some soreness when he threw 20 pitches against Boston on Saturday.
Nathan was expected to fly back to Minnesota yesterday for tests. The 35-year-old right-hander had surgery Oct. 20 to remove bone spurs from the elbow.
Nathan says he isn't too worried, and will know more after doctors compare tests results with those taken last year.
Nathan was 2-2 with a 2.10 ERA and a career-high 47 saves last year.
Webb throws; next outing not yet set
Arizona right-hander Brandon Webb played catch yesterday at Tucson, Ariz., but it's unclear when he'll throw again.
Manager A.J. Hinch said Webb might throw a bullpen session next instead of live batting practice, but did not set a date.
"He's not feeling bad, but he's not feeling strong," Hinch said. "It's not necessarily that unexpected. He is seven months post-surgery and these things get a little testy from time to time."
Webb, coming off shoulder surgery in August, was unavailable for comment before the Diamondbacks faced Colorado in a split-squad game. But the 2006 NL Cy Young Award winner sent word through a team spokesman that he felt fine after playing catch.
Hinch has said Webb could pitch in his first spring game around the middle of the month.
Royals: Kansas City third baseman Alex Gordon is expected to be sidelined for three to four weeks with a broken right thumb.
Manager Trey Hillman said yesterday that Gordon probably will miss Kansas City's April 5 opener against Detroit.
Gordon was injured when he slid headfirst into second base on an attempted steal in the second inning of the Royals' 2-1 victory over Texas on Saturday.
Marlins: Florida center fielder Cameron Maybin strained his left groin during the eighth inning of St. Louis' 7-4 victory over Florida yesterday at Jupiter, Fla.
Maybin was injured while stepping on third base as he was trying to score from first on Donnie Murphy's double. He hobbled home before being escorted to the clubhouse by a trainer. He is not expected to play for at least several days.
Twins: Minnesota has signed pitcher Nick Blackburn to a four-year, $14 million contract. The deal includes an $8 million club option for 2014.
Last season, Blackburn went 11-11 for the second straight year and finished with a 4.30 ERA. He led the club in innings pitched and was second in wins.