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Pirates notebook: Martin homers in former home ballpark

USA Today Sports - Pirates catcher Russell Martin pumps his fist after homering in the sixth inning against the Dodgers on Thursday, May 29, 2014, in Los Angeles.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>USA Today Sports</em></div>Pirates catcher Russell Martin pumps his fist after homering in the sixth inning against the Dodgers on Thursday, May 29, 2014, in Los Angeles.
AP - The Pirates' Russell Martin hits a solo home run against the Dodgers in the sixth inning Thursday, May 29, 2014 in Los Angeles.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>The Pirates' Russell Martin hits a solo home run against the Dodgers in the sixth inning Thursday, May 29, 2014 in Los Angeles.

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Friday, May 30, 2014, 8:18 p.m.

LOS ANGELES — Russell Martin heard the familiar sound of applause Thursday as he rounded the bases at Dodger Stadium.

In the sixth inning, Martin clubbed a 1-1 pitch from Dan Haren over the left-field wall. The 435-foot homer was Martin's 28th at Dodger Stadium, which ranks him fifth among active players. It also was his first as a visiting player.

Martin was the Dodgers' 17th-round draft pick in 2002. He played for Los Angeles from 2006-10.

“I definitely had some great times here,” Martin said. “I remember getting more cheers, hitting home runs here. When you're on the other team, it feels a bit different.”

Martin, 31, had a .272 average and a .761 on-base plus slugging percentage over five seasons with the Dodgers. His power numbers were better during two seasons with the New York Yankees, when he hit 39 homers in just two seasons. He signed with the Pirates before last season.

“I've turned the page,” Martin said. “I still talk to the guys before the game and stuff. But when it's time to play ... I've got the Pirates uniform on now, so it doesn't really matter who's on the other side. I'm playing to win.”

Mercer benched

Lugging a .190 batting average, shortstop Jordy Mercer was benched Friday for the second game in a row. Manager Clint Hurdle said he planned before this series to give Clint Barmes at least two straight starts — and maybe more.

“Definitely the first two (games), we'll see where it goes, just to give Jordy a break,” Hurdle said. “Jordy's been a good matchup against left-handers, but I'm not going to paint myself into a corner, either. I want to give Barmes some reps. In his last 21 at-bats, he's gotten nine hits and has swung the bat pretty well.”

Lefty Hyun-jin Ryu will start for the Dodgers on Saturday. On Thursday, Barmes went 3 for 4 and scored two runs.

Cole swings lumber

Gerrit Cole put down two sacrifice bunts in Thursday's 6-3 victory, and each run led to a run.

“That's my job,” Cole said with a shrug.

Cole is batting .250 — a robust average for a pitcher — and has three sacrifices. Last season, he drove in five runs, which was as many as the rest of the pitching staff combined.

“He's so athletic,” Hurdle said. “He's worked so hard through our development system and since he's been here to be able to do some things at the plate. He's gonna be a guy we might hit-and-run with because he can get a base hit.”

Golden voice

A Southern California native, Cole downplayed any special feelings he might've had pitching in front of so many family and friends at Dodger Stadium. However, Cole did say he's eager to watch a recording of the Dodgers broadcast, with legendary broadcaster Vin Scully behind the mic.

Scully, 86, is a Hall of Famer. He's famous for spinning yarns during games and relaying little-known details about the players.

“I want to hear what stories he's got about me that I don't even know he got them,” Cole said with a laugh.

Check for errors

Perhaps the Dodgers should hire a team proofreader.

On Thursday, the stadium video scoreboard listed PNC Park as being in Pittsburgh, Ohio. Among a collection of photos of managers hanging in the recently renovated visiting manager's office is a black-and-white picture of Hall of Famer Casey Stenge.

Stenge? Hurdle joked that he's tempted to grab a Sharpie and scrawl an “L” on the glass.

Oh, well, as Casey Stengel once said, “You gotta lose ‘em some of the time. When you do, lose ‘em right.”

Lambo has surgery

Minor league first baseman/outfielder Andrew Lambo had surgery Wednesday to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb.

Lambo will rehab at the Pirate City complex in Bradenton, Fla. The expected recovery time is six to eight weeks.

In 26 games at Triple-A Indianapolis, Lambo hit .344 with a 1.000 OPS.

Roster moves

Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez became a free agent Friday when the Pirates put him on unconditional release waivers. He was designated for assignment May 22. Rodriguez, 35, will be paid his full $13 million salary this year whether he signs with another club or not. The Pirates are on the hook for $7.5 million, with the other $5.5 million being paid by the Houston Astros. ... Outfielder Chris Dickerson went on the disabled list at Triple-A Indianapolis.

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