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2019 Cardinals spring training

Cardinals pitcher Carlos Martinez throws while running situational ground ball drills at spring training on Friday, Feb. 15, 2019, at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla. Photo by Christian Gooden, cgooden@post-dispatch.com

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. • Carlos Martinez’s step back could be Dakota Hudson’s step forward.

Martinez showed up in the Cardinals’ clubhouse Tuesday in Jupiter, Fla., with his right arm in a sling. His latest setback will cost him an additional week as the righthander tries to rebound from a weak right shoulder, which plagued him much of last year.

Martinez, who had been out one week of a two-week, non-throwing program, received a platelet-rich plasma injection Monday at Dr. James Andrews’ clinic in Pensacola, Fla. Manager Mike Shildt said Tuesday that Martinez would be out two weeks from now before he is allowed to throw again. Martinez said he expected to be fine in two weeks.

Shildt said the findings of the second opinion were “very, very similar, as far as the imaging. Good news that the second opinion validated the first opinion. Just a little more aggressiveness with the shot,” Shildt said.

Martinez’s availability for opening day March 28 certainly is in question inasmuch as he won’t be throwing until March 12 or so. But Shildt didn’t eliminate the possibility of Martinez being able to relieve at or near the start of the season.

For the moment, there is a starting slot available and Hudson, impressive as a reliever last year, will get his first start of the spring Wednesday, to be followed in that game by lefthander Austin Gomber, who started and relieved last year.

“(Hudson) has been built up as a starter and he’s definitely in the mix for that opportunity,” said Shildt. Hudson was voted the top starter in the Pacific Coast League last season at Memphis.

And, as Shildt pointed out, “Austin Gomber won five games for us in August.”

But Martinez says he has another option. Himself. As his new white Lamborghini was being unloaded from a truck and he was about to slide into the driver’s seat at the Cardinals’ complex in Jupiter, Fla., Martinez dismissed the relief possibility.

“I’m going to start, man,” Martinez said.

WAINWRIGHT DOES WELL

Adam Wainwright tossed two perfect innings at the Washington Nationals in his first start of the spring season, a 6-1 Cardinals victory, and all was well.

“The difference today was that I was focused on command and trusting my stuff and last year I was focused on surviving,” said the 37-year-old Wainwright. “Making a pitch and trying to make it to the next pitch.”

Wainwright threw 13 strikes in 23 pitches as the Nationals employed more or less their regular lineup. He had one strikeout and induced three ground balls while reaching 90 mph with one offering.

Before the short trip from Jupiter, Shildt had said Wainwright was in his rotation. The latter said, “I try not to ever consider myself on the team already.”

But Wainwright hasn’t had just the support of his manager and pitching coach Mike Maddux.

“Guys have come up, one on one, telling me how much they’re rooting for me,” said Wainwright. “The other day Carp (Matt Carpenter) said, ‘The ball’s coming out of your hand great. You’ve got to challenge guys because you’re going to get guys out.’

“When you hear that from an All-Star hitter, that gives me a lot of confidence.”

Wainwright, when asked about his velocity, said he was more concerned with his variance of speeds, although he said, “I did notice that there was some action today that I’ve never had before — a couple of swing-and-miss fastballs.

“I could get it to the low 90s when I was starting but most of the time when I got you swinging at fastballs, it was because you were looking for something else. If you were geared up for a fastball, you usually didn’t swing and miss a fastball.”

After the game, when Shildt’s previous comment was recalled — that Wainwright was in the rotation — the manager responded, “Why wouldn’t he be? He’s got every opportunity to be in the rotation.”

Wainwright has admitted he was tempted several times to quit last season when his elbow wasn’t responding. And now?

“I looked at one of our trainers (Chris Conroy) the other day and he said, ‘How do you feel? And I said, ‘Great. It doesn’t make any sense,’” said Wainwright.

“I didn’t feel great last year. I didn’t feel great the year before. It doesn’t make any sense. Just praise the Lord for that, move on and make the most of it.”

AROZARENA SHINES

Paul Goldschmidt doubled for his first Cardinals hit when he connected to lead off a four-run fourth for the Cardinals. Francisco Pena, who had a double and single, drove in two runs to cap the rally and Randy Arozarena had three hits, was hit by a pitch, stole a base and drove in two runs.

“He’s got tools,” said Shildt.

Former Cardinals relief ace Trevor Rosenthal, the club’s single-season record holder for saves at 48, got to 100 miles an hour as he worked a 1-2-3 fifth for the Nationals. But Rosenthal didn’t face anybody with whom he played.

Rosenthal, who missed all of last season as he recovered from Tommy John elbow surgery, said he did peek at the scoreboard. “I was kind of surprised at how hard I was throwing,” he said. “I didn’t really want that, either. I just wanted to kind of ease into it. But I guess it happens.”


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Rick Hummel is a Cardinals beat writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.