“I didn’t want to be the guy behind in my first big league camp,” Martin said.
He isn’t behind, and the extra work hasn’t had any adverse effects on his left arm. His were short sessions, about 30 pitches max, which suits Martin’s semi-new role as a relief pitcher.
In 14 starts last season for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga, Martin went 5-7 with a 4.79 earned-run average. His control (43 walks in 71⅓ innings was subpar. The faster track to the Dodgers’ 40-man roster resided in the bullpen. There was plenty at stake, since Martin was eligible for the Rule 5 draft if the Dodgers didn’t add him to the 40-man.
Martin made the switch in June and took to the role quickly. As a reliever, his opponents’ batting average dropped from .263 to .212. Promoted to Double-A Chattanooga in August, Martin posted a 1.64 ERA in 11 appearances. He got his coveted 40-man roster spot in November.
There’s no such thing as having too few left-handed relievers in the major leagues, but once camp breaks Martin is likely headed to Double-A or Triple-A. Once there, Martin has the opportunity to define his own role.
“They said (being a reliever) isn’t permanent, but if it is I’ll accept it,” Martin said. “We’ve got a great starting rotation, so I understand that.”
Martin needs to throw more strikes; he threw 56 percent of all his pitches for strikes last season between Single-A and Double-A. He might, by his own admission, need to throw fewer changeups and stick to his fastball and slider as a relief pitcher. And he needs to learn to pace himself.
“As a starter I never really paced myself,” Martin said. “I actually threw harder as a starter late in the game.”