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Martinez sets sights on Cardinals' rotation

Talented right-hander has impressed with strong performance this spring

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Asked whether he would prefer to be a starter or come out of the bullpen, Carlos Martinez didn't need a translator to answer that question, which was posed to him Wednesday after the Cardinals right-hander delivered another solid outing.

"Starter," Martinez quickly blurted out, before catcher Tony Cruz could relay the question from a reporter.

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Martinez certainly is making a strong case for it, looking sharp for the second time in five days in the Cardinals' 6-4 win over the Mets at Tradition Field. The 22-year-old right-hander allowed just two hits, struck out three and walked one in four scoreless innings. He tossed three scoreless innings last Friday, also against the Mets.

So far this spring, Martinez has allowed just five hits and two earned runs in 10 innings, posting a sparkling ERA of 1.80.

"He's had a nice spring. He's throwing very well," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of Martinez. "He has a very good approach to what he wants to do. I think he's got a nice mix. He certainly has the arsenal."

Martinez said he has "good communication" with Cruz behind the plate, an observation shared by Matheny.

"His sinker is really good," Cruz said. "He was effective with all his pitches. When he's on like that, he's tough to hit."

Asked how he likes his Grapefruit League performance so far, Martinez said, "It feels good. I'm just going to keep working."

Working toward a spot in the rotation, he hopes.

Steve Dorsey is a contributor to

St. Louis Cardinals, Carlos Martinez