Carlos Martinez finishes rehab in Springfield

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St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Carlos Martinez made his final minor league rehab appearance Wednesday at Hammons Field.

Martinez is nearing a return to the big leagues from a shoulder injury that has bothered him since last season. Wednesday he completed his rehab assignment with two innings of work against Arkansas. The right-hander allowed one run on four hits but did not record a strikeout or a walk, though he did hit one batter. Martinez exited after throwing 14 of his 20 pitches for strikes.

“My next step is the big leagues,” Martinez said in the clubhouse after Springfield’s 8-2 loss. “Right now I feel 100 percent.”

The seven-year veteran focused mostly on offspeed pitches in the seventh inning, when the Travelers tallied three hits and a run. But in the sixth, Martinez hit 95 miles per hour with his fastball.

When Martinez returned from the injured list late in 2018, he worked out of the St. Louis bullpen. He expects that will be his role with the Cardinals upon his return, at least initially.

“Maybe at the half of the season, I’ll start again, but I don’t know,” Martinez said. “I’ve got a lot of experience, and I know my job right now. Whenever they need me, I’ll come from the bullpen and help the team.”

St. Louis will start a series against the Rangers Friday night in Arlington, Texas.

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