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Martinez to start Cards' first Grapefruit League game

Martinez to start Cards' first Grapefruit League game

JUPITER, Fla. -- The Cardinals will open Grapefruit League play Feb. 28 behind 22-year-old Carlos Martinez, whom manager Mike Matheny named his first spring starter Thursday. It will be the first Grapefruit League appearance for Martinez, who missed an opportunity to participate in exhibition games last season because of visa delays.

Martinez has come to camp trying to make his case for a home in the rotation. He is one of eight starters the Cardinals are considering for five spots. Also among those eight is Tyler Lyons, who will follow Martinez on the mound in that first game. Both pitchers are expected to throw two innings or about 45 pitches, whichever benchmark is reached first.

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If the Cardinals don't make room in the rotation for Martinez, they'll consider his value in the bullpen, where Martinez showed himself to be a weapon last postseason. He was scored upon in just three of his 12 playoff appearances.

"He's a kid that has a lot of potential," Matheny said. "You see a kid with a lot of excitement and a lot of stuff. Now, that doesn't necessarily translate into someone who walks out there and instantly has success as a starter. We'll give him some opportunities and see how it plays out."

Interestingly, the Cardinals started Trevor Rosenthal in their first spring game a year ago before eventually sliding him into a setup role. Martinez could, conceivably, follow that same path.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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