Martinez Getting Closer

TAMPA, FL - It wasn't all that long ago that right-handed pitcher Dallas Martinez was lumped in the same group as Luis Severino ability-wise, two years ago in fact. However, he succumbed to shoulder labrum surgery mid-season last year and now he's rehabbing his way back. He hit a milestone in his rehab program this past week and he's inching his way closer to making a full return.

A 19-year old last season, Martinez was pitching quite well in Extended Spring Training. However, with EST coming to a close and in its final week, he went down with a shoulder injury in a game on May 25th. It was learned he needed labrum surgery on his pitching shoulder and he underwent the procedure shortly thereafter.

"Obviously I was ready for the season but I got hurt," Martinez said through the help of a translator. "It was something unexpected that I had to overcome and go through the process of the surgery and the rehab but I'm better now. It's made me a better player."

He didn't throw a baseball again until October but he was seriously committed to his rehab, so much so that the Mexican native decided to spend the entire offseason in Tampa in an effort to give his rehab his full attention.

He went through the normal rehab process of throwing off of flat ground at various distances; 60 feet, 90 feet, and 120 feet. He did that for roughly four months and just recently made his way up to the half-mound this past week.

"I obviously don't have rhythm yet," he admitted. "My arm doesn't feel the same yet. It takes a little bit longer to warm up and to get used to the way my arm is now. It takes me a little bit longer but once I get heated up I feel like I'm coming back strong as the throws progress."

Limited to just fastballs right now, he was able to throw some changeups off of flat ground but he has yet to mix in the breaking ball. He does admit though that there could be some hesitation once that rehab benchmark comes up.

"I'm a little nervous about throwing the breaking pitches but I'm excited too. Once they give me the chance to throw it I'll throw it."

He is not near that point yet, however. He still has two more weeks on the half-mound before moving up to the regular mound. He will then spend four more weeks on the normal mound throwing bullpen sessions before getting back to facing live batters again.

"Obviously that's the mentality of a pitcher, face hitters, compete, that's what I'm working on and to get ready for," he said. "I can't wait for that day."

Wait he will though, approximately six more weeks. He will spend a couple of weeks throwing live batting practice and then should be ready to get back into games, putting his estimated time table sometime around early June.

The rehab process has stayed on course and there have been no setbacks yet. He says he can feel real progress in gaining his strength back and he believes he is getting closer to being the promising pitching prospect he once was.

"Obviously in the beginning I didn't feel the same. There was no rhythm, no strength, but as the rehab went along I started to feel stronger. On the half-mounds I feel like my arm strength is coming back so I feel if things keep going the way that they are I'm going to be ready and strong," he concluded.

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