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Dodgers' Martin sidelined by groin pull

Dodgers catcher Russell Martin is expected to miss Opening Day after an MRI revealed a groin pull.

Martin first felt discomfort during a running drill a few days before the Dodgers' first exhibition game Friday. He started that day against the White Sox and played five innings, even stealing a base.

"We don't know how long it's going to be," general manager Ned Colletti said. "It's four to six weeks right now, but you know how that goes."

A.J. Ellis, who has only 13 major-league at-bats, will get the bulk of the catching duties with Martin out. The Dodgers also have veteran backup Brad Ausmus, who turns 41 in April.

Martin called his injury "a little strain" and said it isn't a big deal. Moments later, manager Joe Torre said otherwise: "We're going to send him back to L.A. to have another evaluation."

Martin followed a diet and fitness regimen in the winter of 2008-09 that dropped him well below his regular playing weight of 210 pounds. But he struggled offensively last season, and his .250 batting average, seven homers and 53 RBIs all were career lows.

Martin bulked up this offseason, adding 20-plus pounds of muscle, with the intention of improving his power numbers. He had a career-high 19 homers and 87 RBIs in 2007.

Gordon out 3-4 weeks

Royals third baseman Alex Gordon is expected to be sidelined for three to four weeks with a broken right thumb.

Manager Trey Hillman said he probably will miss the April 5 opener against Detroit, but the No. 2 overall pick in the 2005 draft still is optimistic. "That's the way I'm taking it," Gordon said. "Hopefully, I'll be able to get into games at the end of spring training."

Twins sign Blackburn

The Minnesota Twins have signed pitcher Nick Blackburn to a four-year, $14-million contract. The deal includes an $8- million club option for 2014. Last season, Blackburn went 11-11 with a 4.30 ERA. He was chosen by the Twins in the 29th round of the 2001 draft.

- AP

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