Martinez is dominant in Cards’ win; says focus his main emphasis -

Martinez is dominant in Cards’ win; says focus his main emphasis

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JUPITER, FL. ( – The maturation of young Carlos Martinez continued Wednesday as the 24-year-old dominated the Miami Marlins over five innings in the Cards 4-1 win.

Martinez fanned five, issued one walk and two singles, one of which was a routine ground ball by Ichiro Suzuki that hit the first base bag and hopped into the outfield. The Marlins never had a legitimate threat against Martinez all day.

“I was very focused today. That was my main goal,” Martinez said through interpreter Brayan Pena. “I kept myself under control. It was a great outing.”

“He was nasty today,” said Cards skipper Mike Matheny. “He had effortless velocity. He’s right where he should be.”

Composure on the mound, especially when he did not get close pitches called strikes, was a problem for the fiery Dominican. That ability to avoid self-induced meltdowns has been his emphasis this spring. The results were evident. “Sometimes pitches won’t go my way. I have to re-focus myself,” he said, noting he has recently been able to calm himself down without help from players or coaches.

“He’d be going along real good and then something would happen,” and he would blow up, said Matheny. He’s paying attention to what he was missing. He also said Martinez is bigger physically this year and in terrific shape. Matheny likened Martinez to new Cardinal Mike Leake, in that both are very athletic and needed to add strength to make it through the physical demands of the long season.

Martinez was very effective all day, moving pitches around the zone and throwing his change-up effectively. He threw 68 pitches, 45 for strikes. And, he said, he particularly enjoyed the challenge of throwing to Giancarlo Stanton. “Yes, I love the challenge of throwing to a power hitter. That was good for me to stay focused and minimize my mistakes. What I loved the most was using the change up (so well), especially when I was behind in the count to right handed hitters.”

Martinez also made a leaping stab of what could have been a single up the middle, instead making the easy toss to first for the out. He said he has been working this spring on not falling off the mound and finishing in a fielding position.

Martinez was 14-7 with 184 punchouts in 179+ innings last year before being shut down late in the year with a shoulder issue.  That has apparently completely healed this year as his fastball was consistently in the mid-90s.

Matheny said Martinez would make at least one more start this spring as he continues to round into shape for the regular season.

The Cards travel to Viera to take on the Washington Nationals Thursday and to Port St. Lucie to face the Mets on Friday before returning to Jupiter for five straight games here before breaking camp. Their final spring game will be against the Yankees in Tampa before heading toward Pittsburgh for the season opener.

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