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Day 1 of camp: Bulked-up Russell Martin, beardless Casey Blake, visa-less Ronald Belisario and more

PHOENIX – On the day pitchers and catchers had to report to the Dodgers’ spring training camp, Russell Martin walked into the Dodgers’ clubhouse with added muscle that he said made him look “like a fullback.”

Martin spent the winter of 2008-09 working to improve his flexibility and said he felt that the bulk he lost affected him offensively. He went into last season a two-time All-Star, but hit only .250 with seven home runs and 53 runs batted in.

Martin said he weighed 206-207 pounds at the start of camp last year. He said he weighs 231 pounds now.

Beardless Blake

Martin wasn’t the only one sporting a new look. Casey Blake, who was one of several position players to report early, returned without his trademark beard.

“I was so frustrated with the last duck hunt that we had at the end of the season, I was so mad about the season, that I came home and shaved it,” Blake said.

Blake said he had had the beard since the middle of 2007.

“People say it makes me look younger, so maybe I want to renegotiate my contract,” he said.

Belisario late to camp

Ronald Belisario is still in Venezuela because of visa problems, but his agent, Paul Kinzer, said the hard-throwing right-hander could be in camp next week.

Kinzer said that part of the reason Belisario had trouble securing a visa in time was because of the misdemeanor drunk driving charges he faces. Belisario has pleaded not guilty.

Belisario was also late to camp last year because of visa issues.

Other notes

Other position players to report early included Jamey Carroll, Reed Johnson, Xavier Paul, Jason Repko, Ivan DeJesus Jr. and Chin-lung Hu.... When Manager Joe Torre goes to Taiwan next month with a split squad for a pair of exhibition games, bench coach – and presumed manager-in-training – Don Mattingly will manage the team that stays behind.… Torre said his agent is still in talks with the Dodgers about extending his contract by a year. Torre’s current three-year deal expires at the end of this season.

-- Dylan Hernandez
Comments () | Archives (6)

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Since it happened last year, I have been trying to get people to pay attention to the fact that the DUI for Belisario will be an AUTOMATIC revocation of his Visa...that is the law. But nobody even gave it a glance. I know he claims he was not drunk, not even a little, but anymore there is no wiggle room in DUI offenses. I don't see how he will get a visa as he has no US citizenship rights to re-enter the country. It could pretty much end his MLB career, fair or not, guilty or not as he might not even be able to return to defend himself against the charges, especially if there is Giant's or Pad's fan somewhere in the paperwork trial. He should never have left the country until the matter was resolved.

Let's hope Russell Martin returns to his 2007-08 form now that he has added some weight (and muscle?). With the extra weight, he may not wear down as much during the dog days of September. If he has a solid season--batting .285-.290 with, say, 15-16 homers and 75-80 RBIs--and the rest of the lineup is productive, the Dodgers should contend in the West. But I still don't trust the starting rotation. The club's success hinges on how well those five guys do.

It looked like Martin wasn't very mobile behind the plate last year. He would try to backhand balls in the dirt rather than shift his body.

If he did that at 206-207 then what is he going to do at 231?

Glad to be hearing the season is starting to get underway. I think with Russ getting back in form physically we'll see him return to the form that got him to the all-star game*.

*- not saying he'll make the AS game, but just hoping he plays the way he did those years.

Let's hope Martin's chest didn't come from steroids and the extra weight will give him more power and doesn't slow him down.
From the recent picture I saw of Blake , I think he should stop shaving and go back to the scissors.
I hope Belisario learned a lesson and doesn't return to Venezuela neck offseason.

It's sad that Manny Rameriz is such a selfish ballplayer. Where ever he goes he wears out his welcome within a few years. He's been holding in a temper tantrum because of his suspension last year. So when he showed up this year immediately he had to let everyone know this is our punishment for being mean to him last year. Whaa! Whaa! I'll show you. I'm leaving cause you didn't let me play by my rules. Whatever Manny, we like your big stick when you were on steriods but it was just average when you weren't on the juice.


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