Dodgers Inside Pitch -- September 7

The quick return of Russell Martin made life a little bit easier for Dodgers manager Grady Little. An MRI exam Wednesday on the catcher's left knee revealed a mild sprain, and Little breathed a little [no pun intended] easier when the Dodgers MVP declared himself ready to play in the final game of the series.

Had he not been available, Little had two options. One was Mike Lieberthal, who played in Wednesday night's game while Martin was out getting the MRI exam. Having a catcher play in a day game following a night game is not something Little likes to do.

The other option was Chad Moeller. Moeller was acquired by the Dodgers from the Reds, for cash, on July 11. He immediately was sent to Class AAA, where he spent the remainder of the minor league season before being promoted to the big-league club. The trade was a good one for Moeller on a couple of counts.

He grew up in Southern California, and he would finally get a chance to see some action -- even though it was in the minors. While on the roster of Louisville, the Reds' Class AAA team, Moeller did more watching than playing.

   "It was fun to be able to get out on the field on somewhat of a consistent basis," Moeller said. "I maybe made it to 100 at-bats (this season), and that's counting the major leagues, Triple-A and spring training."

   While in Louisville, Moeller went through an eight-week stretch in which he caught three games. He looked at his first couple of weeks in Las Vegas as a mid-summer spring training session and did his best to get back into shape.    "That's a huge part, just getting the legs used to playing and getting them through being sore," he said.

   Hours before Cubs pitcher Jason Marquis threw the pitch that started Thursday's game, Martin was in the Wrigley Field outfield, running, turning, squatting, stopping imaginary wild pitches and anything else that was asked of him by Dodgers trainer Stan Conte. The test of Martin's left knee ended when he and Conte exchanged high-fives.

   Moments later, the decision regarding the starting catcher was final. Martin was back to playing, and Moeller went back to thinking about it.

   "He's out there every day, that's for darn sure," Moeller said of Martin. "He does a great job, and when you have someone like that, you have to take advantage of it. There aren't many like him in the game. You don't find many that can and that are willing to be out there every day. It's a rarity in the game, and they've got a good one. I'm here, and I'll do what's asked of me."

Abreu Ready: Tony Abreu, who was recalled by the Dodgers on Tuesday, would just like to focus all of his attention on playing baseball. That might be tough for him to do.

   The players' union is threatening to file a grievance on Abreu's behalf, claiming that he was injured when the Dodgers optioned him to Class AAA Las Vegas on July 18.

   Abreu suffered an abdominal strain while playing for the Dodgers earlier in the season, but played in a handful of games before being sent back to the minors. When he did report to Las Vegas, his abdominal strain, which has since been diagnosed as a sports hernia, kept him from playing.

   The Dodgers placed Abreu on the minor-league disabled list, prompting agent Scott Boras to cry foul. Boras is claiming that Abreu was hurt before going to the minors and that he should have been on the major-league DL instead of the minor-league one.

   At stake is some money that Abreu would have earned as a major-league player and service time.

   Abreu said on Wednesday that he told manager Grady Little about the pain prior to being sent down. But he also said at one point, also on Wednesday, that he had not mentioned it.

   "He wasn't 100 percent, like a lot of players, but he was playing before he went down," Little said. "He was playing and doing everything we asked."

   Abreu said that he is not aware of any legal action that the union might be planning to take against the Dodgers, claiming that his representatives are handling all of that. At the same time, he is concerned that he will end up looking like the bad guy when this situation settles.

   "I don't want to make them angry," Abreu said through a translator. "I'm not that type of player. I'm the type of player who likes to play hard. I'm not in it for the money. My main interest is to play."

Notes & Quotes
   --OF Matt Kemp hit a solo home run in the eighth inning of Thursday's victory over the Cubs. It was his first home run on the road this season.

   --RHP Takashi Saito closed out Thursday's game by picking up his 37th save of the season. It was also his 14th consecutive save since July 15. Saito allowed one run in 13.1 innings during the month of August, which was good for a 0.68 ERA. He also had 21 strikeouts. In September, he has thrown two scoreless innings.

   --C Russell Martin might have been a little bit too aggressive when he tried to score from third base on a flyball in the seventh inning of Tuesday's game in Chicago. He slid awkwardly and ended up suffering a mild strain to his left knee.

"It's hard to pull the reins in on a player who plays as aggressively as him," Little said. "We've just got to get him to use as much common sense as he can." Martin missed just one game before returning to action Thursday.

   --OF Juan Pierre stole his 56th base of the on Thursday, the most by a Dodger since Steve Sax stole 56 in 1983. The 56 steals also tie Pierre for 10th place on the franchise's single-season all-time list.

   --OF Andre Ethier hit his second pinch home run of the season in the ninth inning of Thursday's victory over the Cubs. Ethier's first pinch homer of the year came on May 27, also against the Cubs.

By The Numbers: 1 -- The number of games over .500 that newly-acquired RHP Esteban Loaiza is as a National League pitcher. He was 39-38 for Pittsburgh (1995-98) and Washington (2005). He is 124-108 overall.

Quote to Note: "I went into this year understanding the risks. I had three-year contracts out there that I left on the table, and unfortunately, it didn't work out. I took that gamble and I lost. I'd do it again. I wanted to take that risk and life is full of them." -- LHP Randy Wolf, after watching his season with the Dodgers -- his favorite team as a child -- end prematurely.

*M*A*S*H* 4077 Report
C Russell Martin (mildly strained left knee) was injured Sept. 4, and he did not play Sept. 5. He returned to the lineup Sept. 6.

3B Nomar Garciaparra (strained left calf) went on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 14. He took infield practice Aug. 22. An MRI confirmed the injury Sept. 1, and he was activated Sept. 4. However, he will be limited to pinch-hitting duty for the time being.

LHP Randy Wolf (tender left shoulder) went on the disabled list July 4. He pitched on a rehab assignment July 25 but emerged with more shoulder irritation. He had season-ending surgery Sept. 5 but received the good news that the injury was not as bad as suspected.

OF Jason Repko (torn left hamstring) opened the season on the disabled list. He had surgery March 28 and is expected to be out for the season. He was moved to the 60-day disabled list Aug. 29.

LHP Hong-Chih Kuo (sore left elbow) went on the disabled list retroactive to July 1. He had arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone chip from his left elbow July 25. He was transferred to the 60-day DL on Sept. 4. It's possible that he may not pitch for the rest of the season.

RHP Chin-hui Tsao (strained right shoulder) went on the disabled list July 15. He was ready to start a throwing program in early August, but renewed pain put those plans on hold.

RHP Jason Schmidt (sore right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 17. He underwent exploratory surgery on June 20, and a torn labrum was discovered. He was transferred to the 60-day disabled list on Aug. 13 and will miss the rest of the season.

RHP Yhency Brazoban (strained right shoulder) went on the disabled list June 1. He cut short a throwing session June 15, and he was subsequently diagnosed with a torn labrum. He underwent surgery June 22 and is out for the season.

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