Martin improves but Dodgers cautious

LENDALE, Ariz. -- Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Russell Martin probably will need a minor league rehabilitation assignment before he is activated from the disabled list, Dodgers manager Joe Torre said Saturday.

However, Torre also said Martin might not have to begin the season on the DL, though the original prognosis was that he would miss four to six weeks because of the right groin pull he was diagnosed with on March 7.

Martin, who said earlier this week that he feels great, has been working out with the team on the field for the past couple of days.

"The decision on whether he is ready will depend on how much playing time he gets,'' Torre said. "That will be the criteria we have to use. If he is ready to play in [spring training] games at a time when we only have four games to go, is that enough? No, it's not enough, even if he is 100 percent.''

The Dodgers are now barely two weeks from Opening Day and Martin doesn't appear close to being ready for game action, so it stands to reason he will begin the season on the 15-day DL and need a few games in the minor leagues before Torre can throw him into a regular season, big-league game.

"That would be my guess, just so he could sort of catch up with spring training with his at-bats,'' Torre said.

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.