JUPITER, Fla. -- Admittedly "a little bit" disappointed not to be opening the season in the Cardinals' rotation, Carlos Martinez, though a translator, said on Monday that he intends "to take advantage of the opportunity" that the organization is offering him as a reliever.
Martinez's reaction came a day after manager Mike Matheny informed the 22-year-old right-hander of the organization's decision to assign Joe Kelly the final rotation spot. In turn, Martinez slides into the bullpen where he will be the team's primary eighth-inning setup man.
"I understand the responsibility that comes with that role, and I'm going to do whatever it takes to help the team," Martinez said, with front office employee Luis Morales translating. "I am just happy that I at least get the opportunity to be a part of the club."
Acceptance of his present assignment, though, has not squashed Martinez's aspirations of being a Major League starter. The Cardinals did not intend for it to, either. In delivering the news on Sunday, Matheny made it a point to tell Martinez that he, too, envisions Martinez eventually finding a place in the rotation.
"Whenever I get the opportunity," Martinez said, "I'll be ready for it."
For now, Martinez will lean on his setup experience from last October as he prepares to fill the same role again. He will start pitching in relief as early as Tuesday so that he can leave camp with at least one appearance out of the 'pen. It will be a chance for Martinez to put a cap on a spring in which he has pitched as well as anyone on the Cardinals' roster.
In what was advertised as a competition for the fifth rotation spot, Martinez allowed three runs on eight hits and three walks. He struck out nine.
"I never saw it as a competition," Martinez said. "I just saw it as the job I needed to do. That was what was asked of me to do. I felt that I did pretty good, but with the decision, I didn't have any control. I just wants to help the team."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.