Martin Nominated for Aaron Award

Russell Martin, the starting catcher for the National League All-Star team, and offensive catalyst for the Dodgers, is a finalist for the Hank Aaron Award presented by Sharp.

The first phase of balloting for the Hank Aaron Award was conducted from Aug. 2-31, allowing fans to vote for the most outstanding offensive performer in each league. One nominee from each club was among the choices, and that fan vote reduced the field to the top six vote-getters per league.

The final phase is being conducted on through Sept. 30, and again fans will choose one player from each league. The two players with the most votes will be announced at a presentation ceremony during the World Series.

Since 1999 -- the 25th anniversary of Aaron breaking Babe Ruth's all-time home run record -- Major League Baseball has recognized the best offensive performer from each league with the Hank Aaron Award presented by Sharp. Past recipients include Barry Bonds (three times), Alex Rodriguez(three times), Manny Ramirez (twice), Albert Pujols, Todd Helton, Sammy Sosa and Carlos Delgado. Last year's winners, selected in balloting during the regular season's final month on, were New York's Derek Jeter and Philadelphia's Ryan Howard.

Martin has enjoyed one of the finest seasons by a Dodgers catcher. He leads all NL catcher's in batting average, hits, runs scored, homers, RBIs, doubles and stolen bases.

"Any time you're being nominated for something it's fun and it probably means you're doing something right on the field," Martin said. "I really don't set any goals when I start a season, but I know that at the end of the year when it's all said and done, I gave my best no matter what my numbers are."

The scrappy catcher has made a name for himself this season by coming through in the clutch with runners in scoring position. Martin is hitting .292 with three homers, six doubles and 51 RBIs with runners in scoring position, and with the bases loaded, the Canadian is hitting .500 with a homer and 15 RBIs.

"He's the total package," Dodgers veteran Luis Gonzalez said of Martin. "He can throw, he can hit, he can run, he's knowledgeable, he takes control of a game talking to the pitchers. That's the sign of a guy who's going to be around a long time."

Martin has done it all for manager Grady Little, he's hit in three different spots in the lineup and has played in 115 games, despite the grind of being a catcher.

In just his first full season in the Majors, Martin is on pace to hit 20 homers, steal 25 bases and drive in 85 runs. Not bad for a catcher.

"All around, this guy has got to be one of the best catchers in the league," said Little. "He's doing a good job catching and playing in all phases of the game. We're proud he's one of us."

Roster Moves-- The Devil Rays called up INF Joel Guzman. ...The Cardinals signed Miguel Cairo to a minor league contract, reinstated c Kelly Stinett from the restricted list and sent him to the minors.

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