Feldman: Gonzales, Martinez especially impressive in live sessio - KMOV.com

Feldman: Gonzales, Martinez especially impressive in live sessions

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(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) By Ezra Shaw (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) By Ezra Shaw

Brian Feldman / BaseballStL | @BFeldman

JUPITER, FL. -- Live bullpen sessions in spring training are glorified warm ups where a pitcher is off the side throwing to nobody but a catcher.  The only difference is a hitter is standing there taking a couple swings just to see live pitching again.

Knowing this, it's often hard to gauge who's doing well and who's having a rough day.  
Lance Lynn, John Lackey, Marco Gonzales and Carlos Martinez were among a handful of big league pitchers who threw live BP Thursday.  Judging from the sounds opposing hitters were making in the batters box after a pitch was thrown it appeared to me Gonzales and Martinez - two guys fighting for the only opening in the starting rotation - stood out.
"Oohs" and "ahhs" were said several times - particularly while Gonzales was on the mound.  Martinez, the favorite for that starting spot, threw to Yadier Molina, who was awfully encouraging during the 15-minute session back on Field 3.  
It's not uncommon for young players who are trying to make an impression in camp to come into spring training more sharp than other more established players.  It makes sense.  The established ones don't have much to worry about.  They can get ready at their own pace.
Younger players don't have that luxury.
Despite the fact Martinez - who's wearing #18 to honor his good friend, the late Oscar Taveras - is favored heavily to open the season in the starting rotation the Cardinals are still planning for Gonzales to make a lot of starts as well.  
Martinez won't be throwing 200 innings in his first season as a big league starter.  Michael Wacha is going to be held back after missing seven weeks with a stress reaction in his pitcher shoulder last year.  And Adam Wainwright is going to get some starts off whether he likes it or not.
There will be opportunities for others.  In addition to those already built-in holes someone's going to get hurt this year.  It always happens.  Every year someone goes down and a team has to adjust on the fly.
Now, Gonzales isn't guaranteed to be that "next man up" so to speak.  There are others who would love that designation.  Jaime Garcia has looked sharp - and, most importantly, healthy - thus far in camp.  Tim Cooney and Tyler Lyons aren't going away either.
But when the 2015 regular season is all said and done the smart money is on both Marco Gonzales and Carlos Martinez making a whole lot of starts for the Cardinals.  And the fact they're off to good starts in spring training certainly is worth noticing.

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