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Martinez accepts role coming off Cards' bench

Wieters ramps up workouts in recovery from calf strain
@anne__rogers
September 14, 2019

ST. LOUIS -- José Martínez knows where the Cardinals stand with about two weeks left in the regular season. He understands the complexity of a deep roster full of outfielders who are producing at the plate. He also knows where that leaves him. As the Cardinals vie for the National

ST. LOUIS -- José Martínez knows where the Cardinals stand with about two weeks left in the regular season. He understands the complexity of a deep roster full of outfielders who are producing at the plate.

He also knows where that leaves him.

As the Cardinals vie for the National League Central title and a spot in the postseason, Dexter Fowler, Harrison Bader and Marcell Ozuna have occupied the outfield on most occasions. That leaves Martinez in a pinch-hitting role, which he doesn’t mind and is used to doing -- he entered Saturday's game against the Brewers slashing .306/.390/.463 in 123 career plate appearances as a pinch-hitter-- but he knows he needs to continue to produce in those situations, too.

Martinez was activated off the injured list on Sept. 1, and after starting Game 1 of a doubleheader that day, he is 1-for-6 with a walk as a pinch-hitter since. In the Cardinals' two losses in Colorado on Tuesday and Wednesday, Martinez struck out off the bench in tight games.

“Of course, you want to go out and do your thing,” Martinez said. “But I had chances and opportunities to go out there and get the confidence, and I didn’t. So, I think this is the job I have right now on this team. … I’m trying to get ready, trying to get ready for any situation.

“This is the last month of the season, and the best nine are going to be out there.”

Martinez was also honest when he was asked to assess his swing. In eight pitches he saw over the two at-bats in Colorado, he swung and missed five times.

“I don’t even know where my swing is at,” Martinez said. “I’m going out there and trying to find something to hit. I mean, not just to hit. At least hit the bat.”

While Martinez searches for his swing in limited action, his attitude has stayed the same. He continues to keep the energy level high in the Cardinals' dugout, and he’s found new ways to help his team even if that means not appearing in the game.

In the clubhouse on Saturday, Martinez and Ozuna had a conversation about Ozuna’s swing and what Martinez was noticing as he watched Ozuna during games. Ozuna listened intently as Martinez helped with foot placement and arm movement during a swing.

“I come to the dugout, I go to the cage and see his swing, everybody’s swing,” Martinez said. “When the guys come in from an inning, and you see something or they ask you something, I’ll say, ‘You’re trying to do this or trying to do that,’ or ‘The catcher is setting up early,’ something that they can use to go out there and make something happen.”

Worth noting

Catcher Matt Wieters, who is nursing a left calf strain suffered at the beginning of September, ramped up his baseball workload at Busch Stadium on Saturday and is getting close to a return, Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. After his workout, Wieters said he is feeling back to normal, and the next step is to see how the calf recovers from the workout.

Anne Rogers covers the Cardinals for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @anne__rogers and on Facebook.