ST. LOUIS -- Carlos Martinez walked into the Cardinals' clubhouse on Monday afternoon sporting a new look.
The ace right-hander's long braided hair extensions, which he had added after making his first start, have been a hot topic among Cardinals fans, as Martinez has struggled since his dazzling season debut. They are gone now, replaced by a shorter style similar to what Martinez had before the change.
"Just wanted to do something different," explained Martinez, through a translator.
The hair extensions, Martinez said, were discarded in the trash.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny offered an endorsement of the hard-throwing righty's new look.
"I'm way OK with that," Matheny said before Monday's series opener against the Brewers. "I'm gonna try not to get too excited about it, one way or the other. If the organization had a policy, that's one thing. It's a new look. It looks good."
Martinez (0-3, 4.71) struck out 10 batters without issuing a walk in 7 1/3 scoreless innings against the visiting Cubs on Opening Day. In his four starts since, he has allowed 17 runs (15 earned) over 21 1/3 innings, with 29 strikeouts and 14 walks.
How does Martinez feel he has pitched?
"Not better than last year, but I'm trying to do my best," he said.
Martinez's 2016 season set the bar high -- and helped the 25-year-old earn a five year, $51 million contract extension back in early February. He went 16-9 with a 3.04 ERA and 174 strikeouts in 195 1/3 innings over 31 starts, slightly better numbers than he put up in 2015, his first year as a full-time starter.
Still searching for that elusive first victory of 2017, Martinez was asked what he must do better to earn a win.
"Work hard and just be myself, and put whatever type of pressure on myself to do better," Martinez said. "Just try hard and not forget the type of player I am and how I've succeeded in the past."
Martinez is scheduled to start Tuesday night's game against the Brewers.