Martinez almost back, but under altered terms

The Cardinal Nation's fifth-ranked Cardinals prospect, pitcher Carlos Martinez, is nearing a return to Double-A Springfield.

Starting pitcher Carlos Martinez rejoined the Double-A Springfield Cardinals on Monday but has not yet been activated. Manager Mike Shildt informed the Springfield News-Leader that the Cardinals' fifth-ranked prospect according to The Cardinal Nation will be activated in time to start on Thursday.

Springfield is off on Wednesday, traveling to Little Rock for a three-game series against the Arkansas Travelers, an affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

The Thursday spot in the Cardinals rotation would usually belong to left-hander Anthony Ferrara. On Thursday, the two will be piggybacked, with Ferrara following Martinez. The idea is to enable Martinez to build up his innings in live action, rather than to continue to do it in extended spring training camp.

Previously, Cardinals officials had said they expected the 21-year-old to rejoin the Texas League Cardinals in late April or early May. The new schedule represents an acceleration of that plan, but under the altered terms of the piggyback start.

As of yet, there is no word as to how long the tandem arrangement will be followed and how the Springfield rotation might be reconfigured when Martinez is ready to carry a full load. Alternatives could be to promote or demote a starter, move one to the bullpen or expand to a six-man rotation as is currently deployed by the Cardinals at the Class-A level.

Along with Ferrara, other current members of the Double-A rotation are Scott McGregor, Boone Whiting, Seth Blair and Richard Castillo.

In the short term, Springfield will not need to make a corresponding roster move to reduce by one player when activating Martinez. That is because former closer Keith Butler was not replaced when promoted to Memphis on Monday.

Martinez has been on the Springfield temporary inactive list since the start of the season. The hard-throwing right-hander had been held up in the Dominican Republic, unable to report to major league spring training camp, due to his US entry visa not being approved until the final week March.

Since then, Martinez has been preparing in Cardinals camp in Jupiter, Fla. While he had also been throwing at the Cardinals academy in the Dominican Republic prior, the organization could not ramp up his workload until they knew when he would be able to pitch.

Note: To see the details of the rotations of all four Cardinals full-season clubs and all players in the system by level and position, check out the Roster Matrix at The Cardinal Nation blog.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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