A relative unknown entering 2017, Jose Martinez burst onto the scene with 14 homers and an .897 OPS in 307 plate appearances last season. He's a Statcast darling, too; Martinez finished first in xBA, fifth in xwOBA and 17th in average exit velocity (min. 200 at-bats). It's understandable to be skeptical given the lack of pedigree and the fact that Martinez never hit more than 11 homers in a season while on the farm, but most advanced metrics suggest last year's power was real, and that he may just be scratching the surface. Martinez dealt with a thumb injury late in the season, but he returned to hit a homer in the Cardinals' final series, which eased lingering concerns about the injury. Manager Mike Matheny has already said that Martinez has the inside track at a starting job heading into 2018, and Martinez has dual eligibility (first base and outfield). Don't forget about him at the draft table.
Martinez (groin) went 1-for-4 with a two-run home run in Thursday's 5-4 Grapefruit League win over the Marlins. Limited to designated hitter duties due to the groin tweak he endured Tuesday, Martinez made his seventh-inning at-bat count, blasting a Caleb Smith offering to right field with a man on to knot the game at 4-4. It was the 29-year-old's first round tripper of spring and extended his modest hitting streak to three games. Martinez is thought to be a candidate for the starting first base job, but a recent report from Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch indicates that Matt Carpenter (back) may open the season as the everyday option due to concerns about whether the shoulder he struggled with in 2017 would hold up if he was deployed at third instead.
Martinez (groin) will bat second and serve as the Cardinals' designated hitter for Thursday's Grapefruit League game against the Marlins, Joe Trezza of MLB.com reports. While the Cardinals aren't yet ready to deploy Martinez in the field after he tweaked his groin Tuesday, the injury apparently isn't anything that will prevent him from running the bases. The Cardinals will likely assess how Martinez feels after Thursday's contest before potentially deploying him at first base or in the corner outfield at some point over the weekend.
Martinez was scratched from Tuesday's Grapefruit League game against the Marlins with a groin injury, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The severity of the issue remains unclear at this point, but more will hopefully be known following the conclusion of Tuesday's game. He missed time with a groin injury last season, so it's possible the Cardinals are playing it safe with the 29-year-old given how early it is in camp still. Martinez was replaced in the lineup by Luke Voit.
Martinez slugged a game-tying, pinch-hit RBI double in his only at-bat during Thursday's 3-3 Grapefruit League tie with the Twins. Positioned as a strong candidate for the everyday first base job, Martinez has gotten off to a sluggish start overall this spring. The clutch two-bagger was naturally a step in the right direction, but the 29-year-old had just one hit in his nine at-bats across three games prior to Thursday. Martinez made excellent use of his long-awaited first extended major-league stint in 2017, slashing .309/.379/.518 with 28 extra-base hits (13 doubles, one triple, 14 home runs) and 46 RBI across 307 plate appearances. Those numbers leave him poised to potentially claim the starting gig for 2018, but he'll have to earn it by replicating last season's success as the exhibition slate unfolds.
Martinez dealt with a quadriceps ailment in winter ball but appears to be at full health heading into this season, Joe Trezza of MLB.com reports. The Cardinals will continue to keep a watchful eye on Martinez in the event that he shows any signs of injury, but there shouldn't be too much concern over his status at this point. The 29-year-old is currently battling for the starting gig at first base, with Matt Carpenter and Luke Voit also in the mix. At the very least, expect him to earn a majority of the time against left-handed pitching while also retaining fantasy eligibility in the outfield. In 2017, Martinez slashed .309/.379/.518 with 14 home runs and 46 RBI in 106 contests.
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