PHOENIX -- Manager Mike Matheny has been a believer in Victor Marte long before the right-handed reliever began to catch additional attention with a strong showing this spring.
And likewise, Marte views this early-season success as anything but sudden.
"It goes back to last year when I was a closer at Triple-A and then that I was able to do that [close] in the winter," Marte said via an interpreter, left-hander Jaime Garcia, on Monday, one day after he settled the Cardinals' bullpen with his 1 1/3-inning scoreless appearance, "It's a combination of that that has me feeling where I am right now."
Marte led the Pacific Coast League with 31 saves last year, a season in which he posted a 1.44 ERA. He followed that with a successful stint in the Dominican Winter League, where he saved another 14 games in 26 appearances.
He briefly began this season with Triple-A Memphis before taking Scott Linebrink's place in the bullpen during the second leg of the team's opening three-city trip. He has since solidified a spot, not just on the Major League roster but as one of Matheny's go-to relievers late.
"He's a player who can come in in the middle of an inning with guys on base and throw big pitches," Matheny said. "He's done that pretty consistently. He's got good stuff. I've just been impressed with how he's handled some adversity."
Though Marte's previous big league experience spanned only 30 games in 2009-10, he is among the club's older relievers. At 31, he has begun the year with a 2.84 ERA in 12 2/3 innings.
"The difference between last year and this year is I feel like I've been attacking the bottom of the strike zone more," Marte said. "I just get ready for whenever they need me to. If it's a tight situation, then I'm going to be ready."