(Busch Stadium) Next stop for Jose Martinez, the Springfield Cardinals (AA). The St. Louis Cardinals outfielder shared that he will leave on Sunday for a rehab assignment starting on Monday with the minor league affiliate.
“It’s not like something they’re pushing me,” Martinez said. “It’s not a joke, this a shoulder so we have to go step by step. It’s actually feeling good right now and actually swinging more than 80%.”
On the Injured List since August 12th, Martinez has missed 11 games while dealing with a sprained right AC joint.
“You don’t want to be hurt and I’ve been there a couple of years,” Martinez said. “You want to help the team win, but I don’t want to go out there in a key situation and complain about the shoulder’s not ready. Just make sure everything’s ready to go because we need those plays, at-bats, throws, or whatever it is to make the playoffs. It’s not like we’re in last place, we’re in a good place right now and I don’t want to be that guy to complain about some situational play just because of the shoulder. So, making sure everything is enough to go out and help the team win.”
As his shoulder has recovered, Martinez has been more and more active before games working out on the field with coach Willie McGee.
“Willie’s actually concerned about a lot of my stuff out there,” Martinez said. “He’s helped me use more of my legs and my feet and just being in the proper position to make those throws. Feeling great. He’s been on top of me since Spring Training, saying that he’s going to get me better. I feel that even with what happened, I’ve actually seen some improvement. I think by the end of this year, of course we’re going to make the playoffs, but I’m going to keep working with him and when I go to Venezuela I’m going to try and do the same thing. Not to just go out there and sit around thinking everything’s going to be fine, but how to do a lot of work still and get ready for next year too.”
“He’s definitely putting in some work,” McGee praised. “He’s getting ready–he wants to help and that’s what it takes to be the best you can be. In anything, put the work in.”
The increased throwing ability has led to three outfield assists for Martinez this season.
“Sometimes people just don’t give him enough credit,” McGee said. “Just like last year with Dex. With all he went through, all he was going through on the field. This year, now you don’t hear all that stuff about the analytics–being this, he’s not doing this, he’s not doing that. Now you don’t hear that stuff. I block all that stuff out and use my eyes to tell what I see, what I feel and then you work from there if they’re willing to work.”
The plan to play winter ball in Venezuela is currently in jeopardy, as President Trump as ordered an embargo against the country which may result in MLB not allowing players to play there.
“I don’t know yet,” said Martinez, who usually gets 50-70 at-bats each off-season in Venezuela. “We have to wait for them. It’s government stuff, so we have to let them decide.”
If the situation to play in Venezuela isn’t resolved, Martinez may explore opportunities to play in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, or Puerto Rico. But obviously, he prefers to return home.
“For me, I play every year,” Martinez continued. “It’s good because my daughter and my sons always watch me play, my family watches me play because of the problems with the visa and stuff. All my family is over there. And there’s some players that help me and some people who help me keep learning about the game.”