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Cards, Jose Martinez team up to aid Venezuela

Club offers $10 tickets with proceeds benefiting slugger's homeland
MLB.com @JoeTrezz

ST. LOUIS -- Every three or four days, Jose Martinez plunges into the flooded inbox of his Instagram account, and finds a call for help. They come from his home country of Venezuela, from strangers. They reach out to ask for food, supplies and other necessities that have become hard to find amid the ongoing political and socioeconomic crisis there.

And after appropriate vetting, Martinez often obliges. Several times this season, Martinez has sent crates of aid to people he does not know, people "with actual need" he said. This is on top of the packages he sends home for family, including his two young children. Now, Martinez has some help of his own.

ST. LOUIS -- Every three or four days, Jose Martinez plunges into the flooded inbox of his Instagram account, and finds a call for help. They come from his home country of Venezuela, from strangers. They reach out to ask for food, supplies and other necessities that have become hard to find amid the ongoing political and socioeconomic crisis there.

And after appropriate vetting, Martinez often obliges. Several times this season, Martinez has sent crates of aid to people he does not know, people "with actual need" he said. This is on top of the packages he sends home for family, including his two young children. Now, Martinez has some help of his own.

The Cardinals announced Friday that they're teaming up with Martinez and the four-star Charity Navigator organization to sell specially priced $10 tickets for the upcoming series with the Brewers from Monday through Wednesday, with 75 percent of the proceeds to be donated to Martinez's relief efforts in Venezuela. Those tickets can be purchased at cardinals.com/helpjose.

Tweet from @Cardinals: We're helping @Cafejr40's relief efforts to aid those in need in his home country of Venezuela with a specially-priced $10 ticket offer for the final three home games of the season vs. the Brewers. Visit https://t.co/kBD52EsdBi for tickets and more information. #HelpJose pic.twitter.com/ZOz6k5to6n

Martinez said the money will target children in hospitals who need food.

"This is for the kids who need it the most," Martinez said.

Though the issues in Venezuela are not new -- the country has suffered increasing food shortages and inflation problems for nearly a decade -- Martinez said the idea came from a recent trip home, in July, to witness the birth of his daughter Alanna. When people approached him in person, he realized he had to do more.

"You see people in line for food for 10 or 12 hours, and then it ends and they don't get it, and they have to try again the next day," he said. "Some people there eat only once a day."

Martinez said he plans to return to Venezuela in the offseason despite the risks, which can be larger for an athlete of his status. Martinez lives in El Guaira, about 30 minutes away from the capital city of Caracas, where crime from the conflict is most concentrated. The mother of Pirates catcher Elias Diaz was kidnapped last winter and held for ransom.

"It's dangerous," Martinez said. "But my whole family is there. If you do dumb stuff, some stuff can happen to you. If you stay away from the areas you don't have to be, I think I'll be OK."

The slugger has a personal stake in the situation as well. Martinez has tried three times to obtain visas to bring his family members to the United States. Those applications all were declined. Venezuela remains one of the seven countries on President Donald Trump's travel ban, which the Supreme Court upheld in June.

AROUND THE HORN
• As expected, the Cardinals officially recalled Giovanny Gallegos from Triple-A Memphis prior to Friday's game. Gallegos, 27, was acquired with Chasen Shreve as part of the deal that sent Luke Voit to the Yankees in July. The right-hander appeared in 20 games for New York over the past two seasons, including four in 2018. Gallegos spent the rest of the season at the Triple-A level, posting a 2.84 ERA across 30 appearances. Those numbers include his 13-game stint at Memphis, where he allowed a lone run in 16 2/3 innings after being acquired and helped the Redbirds to their second straight Pacific Coast League championship.

Matt Carpenter returned to the Cardinals' lineup after sitting for the second time in five games. Manager Mike Shildt hopes the rest will jump-start his leadoff hitter, who slugged St. Louis back into contention with a white-hot summer. But Carpenter has slumped in September, hitting .169 without a home run across 17 games.

• Shildt said he expected Bud Norris to be available in the bullpen. Norris last appeared Sunday due to a blister on his right index finger.

• The Cardinals added Chris Swauger to their coaching staff. Swauger has managed Class A Peoria for the past two seasons.

• Stubby Clapp, who managed Memphis to its second straight PCL championship, will not be joining the Major League staff before he goes to coach in the Arizona Fall League.

DROP THE PUCK
The Cardinals struck a different look for batting practice Friday by donning St. Louis Blues-themed, hockey-style jerseys. Autographed versions of the uniforms will be auctioned off through Cardinals Care, the club's charitable foundation, until Sept. 28 at 8:59 p.m. CT.

Tweet from @Cardinals: We're celebrating @StLouisBlues Night by wearing these hockey themed batting practice jerseys! #TeamSTL 🏒 pic.twitter.com/RGp2AMzeKc

Proceeds from the jersey auction will benefit Cardinals Care in its mission to help children throughout St. Louis. Last year's auction raised more than $17,000 for Cardinals Care. Those wishing to bid on the rare jerseys can do so by visiting cardinals.com/community.

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.

St. Louis Cardinals, Jose Martinez