4:15pm: Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak offered some pointed words with regards to Martinez’s shoulder and offseason training (Twitter links via The Athletic’s Mark Saxon): “Obviously, there’s a history with Carlos’ shoulder and it would be probably in everybody’s best interest if he maintained a constant or perpetual approach to that program.”
More specifically, Saxon notes that the organization would’ve preferred a greater emphasis on physical therapy than strength training. He emphasizes that the Cardinals organization does not question the level of work that Martinez put in over the winter.
9:25am: The Cardinals have shut down righty Carlos Martinez from throwing for two weeks, per MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch Twitter links). While there’s no concern of structural damage, the club believes that the hurler needs to build up shoulder strength.
Given the timing of the news, it seems reasonable to anticipate that Martinez will not be ready to join the rotation on Opening Day. There are indications the club may prefer to utilize him in a relief capacity, though even in that case it’d seem prudent to chart a conservative course. Beyond the immediate needs, the Cards have to protect their future investment in Martinez ($34.5MM over three years, plus two options).
Martinez, 27, has mostly been healthy and productive since joining the Cards’ rotation on a full-time basis in 2015. But he has dealt with some health issues in that time. Things came to a head last season, when shoulder troubles sidelined him for a stretch and forced him to return as a relief pitcher late in the season.
It’s hard to know just what to make of this latest news. Martinez could respond well to the strengthening program and jump right back into action. Then again, the shoulder is a complicated part of the body; uncertainty there is most unwelcome for any hurler. We’ll just have to see how Martinez progresses. For the Cards, the news represents an early test of the club’s pitching depth.