Martin leaves game with thumb injury

ST. LOUIS -- Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Russell Martin left Friday night's 8-4 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in the eighth inning after an injury to the thumb on his left hand worsened to the point Martin said it affected his ability to swing a bat.

Martin hadn't informed the team medical staff of the nagging issue, which he said he had been dealing with for several days and he believed was the result of constant pounding the hand takes when catching pitches behind the plate.

"I remember catching a ball and kind of having a stinging sensation in there, but I didn't really feel it that much," Martin said of the moment he initially felt something after catching a particular pitch earlier this month. "It's always a possibility, where you mis-catch a ball or take one off your thumb. But it kind of flared up, and that last time up [in the eighth inning], I felt it swinging the bat."

The injury doesn't appear to be serious enough to raise any concerns about a possible disabled-list stint, and Martin indicated he would fight any effort to put him there. But Martin didn't completely shut the door on the possibility of taking a few days off to allow time for his thumb to heal properly.

"I have had this before, but I guess every time you get something, it's different," Martin said. "I had the whole All-Star break, and it didn't seem to be enough. I don't mind playing banged up. It's part of the job. I'm sure [Dodgers manager] Joe [Torre] had his share of hand injuries as well, just being a catcher. It happens."

Torre said he noticed Martin wincing after one swing during Friday night's game. When Martin came back to the dugout after that at-bat, Torre saw Martin's thumb was swollen, so the decision was made to send him to the training room for treatment.

Martin said no X-rays, MRI exam or other medical examinations are scheduled. He will see the team's training staff again before Saturday's game for further evaluation.

Meanwhile, backup catcher Brad Ausmus, who has been on the disabled list for almost the entire season following surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back, has progressed to the point of actually catching in games on his minor league rehabilitation assignment, which has been moved to Triple-A Albuquerque. Ausmus will return from his rehab when the Dodgers begin a homestand Monday, but he isn't expected to be activated for several more days, meaning that if Martin is forced to rest his thumb, A.J. Ellis will be forced to handle all the catching duties until Martin is ready to return.

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.