ST. LOUIS -- Needing to clear room on the roster for Justin Masterson, the Cardinals pared their list of relievers to seven by optioning right-hander Carlos Martinez to Triple-A on Friday. While with Memphis, Martinez will pitch out of the rotation.
This will be Martinez's first return to the Minors since 2013; the move is designed to get him feeling comfortable off the mound again. Martinez has bounced around in various roles this season, beginning as a setup man, moving into a middle relief role and then plugging a rotation vacancy.
He struggled as a starter, and with the Cardinals' recent Trade Deadline acquisitions, he was no longer needed in the rotation.
"He needs to pitch, and he needs to get some things sorted out, some consistency," manager Mike Matheny said. "I think there is another level there for him, and that was the message given to him. It's more on the mental side, the preparation side and obviously the execution, which is the bottom line. He looks close, and we all see the stuff. The stuff is tremendous. He's got a competitor's heart, and we like the way he goes about it, but all in all, it comes down to making good pitches in big situations."
Martinez had a 4.74 ERA and 1.493 WHIP over 68 1/3 innings with the Cardinals this season. He walked 31 and struck out 64. By keeping him stretched out as a starter in Memphis, the Cardinals will have flexibility in how they use him later in the season. He is certain to be a September callup if he's not needed before then.
"I think the reason we want him starting in Memphis is that he needs to get consistent work," general manager John Mozeliak said. "That's the easiest way to manage that down there. As far as his usage in the big leagues when he returns, it will probably be by need. But if the rotation is working like we hope, then probably the opportunity would be in the bullpen."
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.