Martinez Shows Power Despite Health Questions

BUFFALO, NY - The Mets recalled Fernando Martinez last week to reinforce the outfield and give the club another bat off the bench. The long-time prospect is off to a good start in his most recent trip to New York, but his productivity began before his promotion. Martinez's prospect status has been much-maligned, but in 2011, he continues to show that if he is healthy, he still has a bright future

There are few players in the Mets organization with as many question marks surrounding them like Buffalo right fielder Fernando Martinez. The talent the 22-year-old possesses is undeniable, but his inability to stay healthy has fans and team officials alike concerned with his durability.

On April 13, Martinez suffered another injury, this time a right hamstring strain. He missed 38 games in 2010 because of a left hamstring strain and recurring knee soreness.

Martinez is used to missing time and having to rehabilitate injuries. It's that experience that has made dealing with this year's problems a little less of a headache.

"This year hasn't been too hard because I've had so many injuries the past couple years," Martinez said. "I just keep working hard and I try not to think about it too much, and continue to play the game the right way."

His injury management is paying off. Since returning from the latest injury, Martinez has been on fire in his limited playing time. Buffalo manager Tim Teufel has been taking it slow with the injury-prone Martinez.

"I think [Fernando] is swinging the bat pretty good," Teufel said. "He's a guy we have to watch, we can't throw him out there every day."

The approach Teufel has taken with F-Mart has paid off, as he posted back-to-back two-hit games and has homered in both as well before being recalled to New York on May 11.

Martinez raised his batting average to .292 and has three homeruns and seven RBI. Teufel has been impressed with the sheer ability of his right fielder.

"He competes; he's a professional hitter," Teufel said. "[On May 9 against Scranton] he hit a curveball out, he put a very good swing on it and he was very aggressive. He's been playing good out there [defensively], so we'd like to keep him out on the field."

Martinez is taking the time his manager has given him and has made the most of it. He continues to work on his legs on off days.

"Yea, [Teufel] told me that I'll play [in a game or two] and then get a day off," Martinez said. "On the days off I can work on my leg, just to continue getting stronger."

Out on the field is exactly where Martinez wants to be. The injury problems have noticeably taken a toll on him over the past few years, but he continues to maintain a positive attitude.

No matter where Martinez is playing he wants to help his team win any way he can. Spring training wasn't anything he hasn't experienced before and is used to playing with big league talent.

"[Spring training] was good but I've been there for the past five years or something," Martinez said. "I feel comfortable in [New York]. Like I said, I feel good wherever, in spring training, [in Buffalo], or in the majors."

It's hard to believe that Martinez is in his sixth season in the Mets organization and he will only be celebrating his 23rd birthday in October. He's played only 36 games in a Mets uniform, but he continues to work hard in Triple-A with the hopes of getting back to New York to stay.

"You want to be [in New York]," Martinez said. "You're working here to get there. I want to be there."

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