Victor Martinez certainly showed some rust last season in his first year back from ACL surgery, batting just .232/.290/.337 over the first three months.
Since then, though, he’s looked like a four-time All-Star at the plate.
After closing last season with a .367/.418/.519 batting line over his final three months, Martinez is off to a blistering .336/.384/.603 start in 2014. The slugger went 2-for-4 in Tuesday’s comeback win over the Orioles, following up Miguel Cabrera’s big three-run blast in the ninth inning with a solo shot of his own.
Not only has V-Mart carried over his fine close to the 2013 campaign this year, he’s starting to rediscover his power stroke. The 35-year-old didn’t hit more than three home runs in any of his three hot months last season but hit four bombs in April and already has gone yard five times over just 52 plate appearances in May. Martinez is on an early-season pace of 42 longballs, which is certainly notable given that he hasn’t reached 20 bombs since 2010.
We haven’t even gotten to V-Mart’s most impressive stat this season: the slugger has struck out fewer times (eight) than he’s gone deep (nine). While the pace will surely slow, Martinez is looking as good as ever at the dish.
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Garcia on Tap for This Weekend?
When Jaime Garcia had to be shut down in spring training after feeling discomfort in his surgically-repaired left shoulder, few were giving him a chance to contribute to the Cardinals this season. Not only did he have the shoulder issue to deal with, but the Cards’ bevy of rotation options meant the odds were stacked against the left-hander.
Yet, here we are in mid-May and it appears Garcia is poised to rejoin the rotation.
Garcia had a hiccup in his first rehab start earlier this month when he had to leave after getting hit on the elbow by a pitch, but he bounced back with a nice showing Monday at Triple-A Memphis, allowing two runs on three hits and two walks while striking out five across five innings. The southpaw got his pitch count up to 74 in the outing.
Ideally, the Cards would probably prefer to give Garcia one more rehab start in order to sharpen up more while also elevating his pitch count. However, with Joe Kelly’s (hamstring) return not on the horizon and Tyler Lyons (shoulder) joining him on the DL, Garcia is looking like a good bet to take the ball on Saturday versus the Braves.
While Garcia can be frustrating at times with the occasional big inning, there’s no doubting that he’s been a rock-solid starter for the Cardinals more times than not. Since becoming a full-time member of the St. Louis rotation in 2010, Garcia boasts a 3.38 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and 429/159 K/BB ratio over 535 innings. He uses a great sinker to induce a ton of grounders (55.5 GB%) while also limiting the longball (0.67 HR/9). If he can manage to stay healthy, he makes for a fine addition to the end of your fantasy rotation.
Bad News for Harrison
Matt Harrison was limited to just two starts last season following a pair of back surgeries and got a late start to the 2014 campaign after suffering a setback during spring training. Unfortunately, he had to be removed from Tuesday’s outing when his back started barking again.
The left-hander admitted that the stiffness he felt Tuesday was in the same area that he had operated on last season. He’s flown back to Dallas to be examined by Dr. Drew Dossett and will miss at least his next outing. An extended absence certainly can’t be ruled out.
"It's frustrating, to begin with," Harrison told MLB.com. "I think of what happened last year and all I went through to get back. I don't want to go through that again. I guess we'll find out tomorrow and see what he says. I'd like not to have that issue again. I'm praying I don't have to go through it again."
The Rangers already have Tanner Scheppers (elbow) on the disabled list and could put Martin Perez (elbow) on there Wednesday. The probability is high that Harrison will join them. Robbie Ross, who had been slated to start next Tuesday, will move up to take the ball Sunday in Harrison’s place.
National League Quick Hits: The Marlins confirmed Tuesday that Jose Fernandez has a "significant" tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and is likely facing Tommy John surgery ... Josh Beckett allowed an unearned run on four hits over 6 1/3 innings in Tuesday’s win over the Marlins, lowering his ERA to 2.38 ... Mike Minor fired 6 2/3 shutout innings Tuesday in easily his best start since coming off the disabled list ... Bronson Arroyo turned in a complete game in Tuesday’s win over the Nationals and boasts a 0.91 ERA over his last four starts ... Carlos Gomez is considered day-to-day with lower back tightness ... Michael Cuddyer (hamstring) is hoping to be activated for the beginning of the series against the Giants on May 20 ... Marlins pitching prospect Anthony DeSclafani will be called up to make his major league debut on Wednesday versus the Dodgers ... Ryan Zimmerman (thumb) is recovering more slowly than expected, as he’s likely a week away from strengthening work ... Mat Latos (elbow) will throw off a mound again Wednesday and is shooting for a late May/early June return to the Reds’ rotation ... Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak indicated Tuesday that Kolten Wong could be recalled soon ... Mets manager Terry Collins said Tuesday that his closer will be a "game-by-game" decision, with Jeurys Familia, Kyle Farnsworth, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Jose Valverde all in the mix ...
American League Quick Hits: David Price went the distance, striking out 12 Mariners in a win Tuesday ... Hisashi Iwakuma tossed eight scoreless frames in opposition of Price but settled for a no-decision ... Drew Pomeranz struck out eight over five scoreless innings for the A’s Tuesday ... David Ortiz went 4-for-5 with two home runs and four RBI in Tuesday's loss to the Twins ... Dallas Keuchel threw a seven-hit shutout in the Astros’ win over the Rangers Tuesday ... Tommy Hunter blew his third save of the season in Tuesday’s loss to the Tigers ... Jose Cisnero (elbow) will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery next week ... Josh Willingham (wrist) could begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A Rochester this weekend ... Coco Crisp (neck) is unlikely to return to the lineup until Friday ... Yankees pitching prospect Chase Whitley will be called up to make his major league debut on Thursday versus the Mets ... Jason Kipnis (oblique) has begun hitting off a tee ... Josh Hamilton (thumb) is expected to begin taking batting practice this weekend ... Carlos Beltran has been diagnosed with a bone spur in his right elbow but is hoping to avoid surgery ... Omar Infante was placed on the disabled list Tuesday with back stiffness ... The Orioles will call up Kevin Gausman from Triple-A Norfolk to start Wednesday against the Tigers ...