Carlos Martinez’s right shoulder is a major source of uncertainty for the Cardinals right now, as the righty was in camp with his arm in a sling yesterday following a platelet-rich plasma injection. Martinez was already halfway through a two-week shutdown when he received the injection, and the Cardinals indicated yesterday that said injection could push his timeline for throwing back another week. There’s been ample talk of Martinez pitching in a relief capacity this season, but Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch quotes Martinez as plainly and confidently stating, “I’m going to start, man.” Because Martinez won’t resume throwing until mid-March, it seems virtually impossible for him to build up to a starter’s workload by the team’s season opener on March 28. As such, if there is indeed a plan for Martinez to work in the rotation, he’d need to start the season on the injured list. As Hummel writes, that’d open the door for one of Dakota Hudson or Austin Gomber to step into the starting five to begin the season. Manager Mike Shildt praised both Hudson and Gomber when discussing potential rotation options with Hummel.
Elsewhere in the NL Central…
- Asked about his future in the game Wednesday, Cubs lefty Cole Hamels told a flock of reporters that he has zero intention of retiring anytime soon (Twitter link via MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand). There’s been little reason to think that Hamels, who just turned 35 in December, would give serious consideration to retirement, but his answer was nonetheless entertaining and telling of his goals. Hamels gave a blunt “Hell no!” when asked if he’s considered retirement and voiced a desire to play until he’s 45 years old, noting that he was a teammate of ageless wonder Jamie Moyer early in his career. Hamels had a rocky start to the season with the Rangers in 2018 but was revitalized by a trade to Chicago, as he pitched to a brilliant 2.36 ERA with 8.7 K.9, 2.7 BB/9, 0.7 HR/9 and a 47.7 percent grounder rate in 76 1/3 innings with the Cubs (12 starts).
- Pirates catcher Elias Diaz is battling a viral illness, and it’s questionable whether he’ll be ready for Opening Day, as Nubyjas Wilborn of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes. Pirates director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk said that Diaz will be shut down from baseball activity for “a couple of weeks.” The 28-year-old Diaz quietly enjoyed somewhat of a breakout season in 2018, hitting .286/.339/.452 with 10 homers and a dozen doubles in just 277 plate appearances. He’s still firmly behind Francisco Cervelli on the team’s depth chart, but with Cervelli entering the final season of his current contract, the 2019 campaign could be a proving grounds for Diaz as he eyes the starter’s job in 2019. Presumably, 29-year-old Jacob Stallings would serve as Cervelli’s backup early in the year if Diaz isn’t ready to go, as he’s the only other catcher on Pittsburgh’s 40-man roster. The Bucs have minor league veteran Steven Baron in camp on a minor league deal as well.