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Martin motivated by lack of roster spot this offseason

Left unprotected from Rule 5 Draft, former starting pitcher carving niche in Braves' bullpen

ATLANTA -- As Cody Martin has flourished during the first week of his Major League career, he has not forgotten that the Braves did not add him to their 40-man roster this past offseason and consequently could have lost him during December's Rule 5 Draft.

"That was tough, but I knew I belonged [on the roster] and belonged in the big leagues," Martin said. "I'm not going to sit there, cry about it and say, 'Why not me?' If I'd have done that, who knows where I'd be? I'd probably be [with Triple-A] Gwinnett right now, being used as a starter. I took it as a challenge to prove them all wrong, especially all the teams that didn't pick me in the Rule 5 Draft. It all worked out pretty good. I'm where I need to be right now."

Since earning an unexpected spot in Atlanta's bullpen, Martin has proven that his Spring Training success was not necessarily a fluke. The 25-year-old right-hander entered Tuesday leading all Major League relievers with nine strikeouts. He has retired 15 of the 17 batters he has faced thus far, and in the process, graduated from long reliever to one of Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez's primary middle-relief options.

After starting pitcher Shelby Miller exited after five innings during Monday night's 3-2 win over the Marlins, Martin provided the Braves the two scoreless innings they needed to hand a lead to the two seasoned veterans in the back of their bullpen -- Jim Johnson and Jason Grilli.

Martin concluded Monday's sixth inning by striking out Marlins catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia with the "harder" spike curveball that he developed during Spring Training with Alex Wood's assistance. This curveball, which has been clocked at approximately 75 mph, provides some deception when paired with the 70-mph curveball he routinely displayed while spending the past three seasons as a starting pitcher in Atlanta's farm system.

"I've gotten a little more comfortable every day," Martin said. "Every day, it's a little easier to do your job. The first few, it was pure adrenaline and anxiety. Now, it's more like I've got a job to do and I've got to get through these next two innings."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for
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