Out for year, Martin awaits word on surgery
Dodgers consulting with three specialists on hip injury
LOS ANGELES -- Doctors got Russell Martin's attention when they mentioned his hip injury and Bo Jackson in the same sentence.
"Heck yes, are you kidding me, it scared me," said the Dodgers catcher, who is out for the year after being diagnosed with a right hip fracture and torn labrum.
"I just want to be healthy and play baseball again. They compared it to what Bo Jackson had, but said he didn't take care of it. That's the last thing you want to hear. I'm going to listen to what they tell me and follow it by the letter."
Martin suffered the injury in the second inning Tuesday night, trying to tag up from third to score on a flyout by Jamey Carroll. Martin came in standing up, lost his balance after being tagged out by Padres catcher Nick Hundley and made an awkward landing on his right foot, apparently jamming the top of his leg into the cartilage-like material that insulates the inside of the hip joint.
Doctors told Martin he suffered a hip subluxation, the same injury that is believed to have led to the premature end of the two-sport career of Jackson. It is believed the fracture will heal naturally.
Whether Martin will need surgery to repair the labrum has not been determined. The Dodgers are consulting with three hip arthroscopy specialists -- Dr. Marc Philippon of Vail, Colo.; Dr. Thomas Byrd of Nashville, Tenn.; and Dr. Bryan Kelly in New York -- who will receive test results in the next few days.
Dodgers trainer Stan Conte said it's still hoped that Martin can avoid surgery, which would require a three-month rehab. Even without surgery, Martin has been told he's done for this year. An MRI Wednesday revealed the labral tear. A CT scan and X-ray Thursday confirmed the fracture, both believed caused by the force of Martin's leg jamming into the hip joint.
"Honestly, I don't feel like I need [crutches], but there's a fracture in there and I can't put pressure on it," said Martin. "Nobody told me how long this will be. Right now, I'm waiting."
Martin said he can "walk around and it's not really painful," but he feels pain with certain stretches. He said he "just manned up" to stay in the game Tuesday night.
He said he was caught in between while trying to score, seeing Hundley standing straight up, knowing it would be a close play and at the last second saw Hundley catch the throw.
"I threw my elbow out to knock the ball out of his glove, took a stride past the plate, looked back to see if I was safe and my leg stiffened and hyperextended," Martin said. "The hip gave and the sublux crushed the bone and tore the labrum. I went from a sprint to a stop and felt a pop, but didn't think anything of it."
The most recent Dodgers player to undergo hip labral repair was Tony Abreu, who was operated on by Philippon in 2008. Dodgers team doctor Neal ElAttrache worked alongside Philippon on the staff at the Steadman-Hawkins Clinic in Vail.
Among players that have returned successfully from such operations are Chase Utley and Brett Myers. Alex Rodriguez returned quickly from a modified procedure performed by Philippon last year.
Martin remained in the game until the eighth inning, when he told manager Joe Torre he was concerned about his limited mobility with Hong-Chih Kuo coming in to pitch.
The Dodgers believe the injury is new and unrelated to a muscle problem Martin had in Spring Training, which was diagnosed as a groin strain. Labral tears are often associated with referred pain and stiffness in the groin.
A former Gold Glove winner, Silver Slugger and All-Star, Martin has had a disappointing season. He's batting .248 with five homers, 26 RBIs. He is eighth among National League catchers throwing out basestealers with a 30.6 percent rate.
General manager Ned Colletti said Martin's injury does not necessarily mean the Dodgers need to acquire somebody to play ahead of Brad Ausmus or A.J. Ellis.
"We're OK as of right now, but like any other position, if we have a chance to improve it, and it makes sense from who we have to trade and what it's going to cost, we'll do it," he said. "I don't worry about either one of our catchers right now being able to play in the big leagues. Brad is one of the all-time best and A.J.'s been waiting for the opportunity and probably could've been here a year ago."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.