ST. LOUIS -- Carlos Martinez made his climb through the Cardinals' farm system exclusively as a starter, which is why he was as surprised as anyone to collect his first Major League win in relief.
Martinez earned that milestone victory on Monday, when he pitched two innings during the Cardinals' 8-6 comeback win over the Reds. Though he doesn't yet have his hands on it, Martinez has been promised a game ball from the win. He said he will send it to his parents in the Dominican Republic.
"It's something I'm really excited about to have been in that position and do my part to help the team win," Martinez said, with teammate Jaime Garcia translating. "It's something I will never forget."
Martinez may start again before the end of the season, but for now, he has settled back into the bullpen. He has vacillated between the two roles for much of the season. Eleven of his 12 big league appearances have been in relief, while all 15 of his Minor League outings have been starts.
The Cardinals still project Martinez' long-term fit to be in the rotation, and Martinez is hopeful that lessons learned during his time relieving can help regardless of the future role.
"As a reliever, I have to lock it in every single pitch or else one pitch can determine the game," Martinez said. "As a starter, I try not to do it, but sometimes you get a little comfortable. I'm glad they put me in the bullpen at the Major League [level]. I definitely believe that, in the future, if I'm going to be a starter, that [experience] will help me a lot."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.