Martin catches four innings of minor league game

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martin headshot.JPGRussell Martin, slowed early in camp by a pulled groin, caught four innings of a minor league game on Thursday and reported no pain or discomfort, according to the Los Angeles Times’ Dylan Hernandez.

The outing went so well, in fact, that he’s already slated to catch six innings of a Triple-A exhibition game on Friday afternoon.  Martin compiled an ugly .250/.352/.329 batting line last season with just seven home runs and 53
RBI in 505 at-bats.  He’s hoping to turn his career around this year and expects to be ready by the start of the regular season. 

If it doesn’t work out, and he’s not available on Opening Day, look for 28-year-old A.J. Ellis and 40-year-old veteran Brad Ausmus to split time behind the plate in his absence.

A-Rod to join ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball booth

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Alex Rodriguez’s post-retirement renaissance continues apace. After starring as a studio host for Fox’s playoff coverage over the past couple of years, A-Rod is about to be named to, arguably, televised baseball’s top job: color commentary in ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball booth.

Michael McCarthy of The Sporting News is hearing that ESPN is going to give the gig, vacated by Aaron Boone by virtue of his hiring by the Yankees, to Rodriguez. There he’ll join Jessica Mendoza and whoever they get to replace play-by-play man Dan Shulman, who chose to step back from the Sunday night job following last season. This, by the way, marks the second time A-Rod has taken over Aaron Boone’s job given that he replaced Boone at third base for the Yankees in 2004.

The twist: A-Rod is likely to keep his Fox postseason job too. While some broadcasters work for multiple networks, it’s pretty rare for Fox to allow its talents to work for competitors like that. Apparently they believe keeping A-Rod — who five years ago was one of the most despised figures in baseball — is worth it. What a difference a few years makes.

In other news, Alex Rodriguez is likely to be shunned mightily by the current crop of BBWAA voters when he hits the Hall of Fame ballot in a couple of years. At the rate he’s going, though, their successors will put him in Cooperstown via the Ford Frick Award sometime in the 2040s.