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Cardinals promote top pitching prospect Martinez

ST. LOUIS -- With a pair of relievers likely to be unavailable for Thursday's series opener against the Cubs, the Cardinals fortified their bullpen by recalling Carlos Martinez from Triple-A. To open a spot for Martinez on the 25-man roster, the Cardinals optioned Michael Blazek to the Minors.

Martinez, the Cardinals' top-ranked pitching prospect and the No. 2 overall prospect in their farm system, has been pitching in the Memphis rotation, though he'll slide into the Major League bullpen for now. He pitched eight innings of relief for St. Louis in May, and he had gone 3-2 with a 1.98 ERA in eight starts since returning to Triple-A on May 27. During that stretch, Martinez struck out 35 and walked 16 in 41 innings.

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Martinez, who last pitched on Friday, will be available to pitch immediately and can offer the Cardinals multiple innings of relief. That could be critical, as the Redbirds will likely to be without Seth Maness, who threw 48 pitches in an appearance on Wednesday, and Edward Mujica, who has pitched in six straight games, for Thursday's game at Wrigley Field.

"We'll see ... [we'll use Martinez] as needed," manager Mike Matheny said. "We've got a guy who can come out of the bullpen and throw a few innings or go longer. He's built up to do anything we need him to do. He'll be ready to go. We need somebody who can eat up some innings and he's built himself up to be that guy."

Blazek, the team's No. 8-ranked prospect, made three appearances during his callup and allowed three runs on two hits in three innings. He will return to Memphis.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. Brian Hedger is a contributor to

St. Louis Cardinals, Michael Blazek, Carlos Martinez