Cards recall Martinez after tuneup at Triple-A

Cards recall Martinez after tuneup at Triple-A

ST. LOUIS -- With the Cardinals needing a fresh arm for the bullpen and Carlos Martinez trending in the right direction at Triple-A, the Cardinals recalled the right-hander on Sunday after a 16-day stay in the Minors.

Martinez was traveling from El Paso, Texas, to join the big league team and was expected to arrive at Busch Stadium midway through Sunday's game. The Cardinals will use him immediately, if needed, as Martinez has thrown only 25 pitches since a six-inning start for Memphis on Aug. 10. Those 25 pitches came during a start on Friday in a game that was washed out early in his outing.

In the two official starts he made after the demotion, Martinez combined to pitch 10 1/3 scoreless innings. He allowed six hits, walked one and struck out seven.

"I think he was aggressive in the strike zone with the fastball, which is the basics for everything," manager Mike Matheny said. "After that, he was really finding a good feel for his slider. When you have a guy coming out of the bullpen for maybe one-plus innings and you have two way-above-average pitches, you ought to be very effective."

Martinez was sent down after struggling in the Cardinals' rotation; the organization hoped some work in less-pressured situations would get the right-hander back on track. He was expected back up once rosters expand in September, though need prompted an earlier return.

The Cardinals have flexibility in how to use Martinez, as he can provide length out of the 'pen but has also been the team's setup man for sustained stretches. He also better balances the bullpen by giving Matheny a fourth right-hander. With two of those right-handers (Pat Neshek and Trevor Rosenthal) designated as the team's eight- and ninth-inning arms, Matheny had been handcuffed in his ability to play to matchups recently.

Martinez took the spot of Kevin Siegrist, who was optioned to Memphis on Saturday night. The left-hander struggled after being activated from the disabled list on July 23, posting a 12.38 ERA in nine appearances. 

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.