Martinez driven to remain a starting pitcher

Martinez driven to remain a starting pitcher

JUPITER, Fla. -- A day after telling manager Mike Matheny it was his "dream" to earn a place in a Major League rotation, right-hander Carlos Martinez began to shift his priorities.

He is no longer driven by his desire to be a starter, but now rather by his intent to stick as one.

"I felt very happy," Martinez said, with front-office employee Luis Morales translating. "This is all that I wanted to do."

Martinez has one more Grapefruit League start to make before he pitches against the Reds in the fifth game of the Cardinals' season. He's expected to be pushed to around the 90-pitch mark in that last tune-up on Wednesday.

The Cardinals made room for him in the Grapefruit League rotation by scheduling John Lackey to pitch in a Minor League game instead.

This won't be Martinez's first opportunity to start, but it will be his first sustained chance. While other injuries thrust Martinez into making six consecutive starts last summer, he spent much of that time building up his pitch count. He has a 4.86 ERA in his seven career big league starts.

For Martinez to thrive in this new role, improved efficiency will be critical. In those seven starts he's made, Martinez has averaged 17 pitches per inning.

"That is basically it," Martinez said. "Try to be more efficient with my pitches. Try to throw fewer pitches per inning so I can go deeper into games and last eight or nine innings, if possible."

Other news and notes from the day:

• After several attempts to exploit a defensive shift by bunting, first baseman Matt Adams was finally successful on Tuesday in the Cardinals' 3-2 loss to the Marlins. He pushed a bunt just far enough away from starter Henderson Alvarez to lead off the second. Adams has not tallied a bunt hit or executed a sacrifice bunt in his professional career. He has worked on his technique throughout camp.

"[First-base coach] Chris Maloney did a great job talking to him," Matheny said. "They went down and altered his mechanics a little bit, just his grip on the bat and kind of what his thought process was. He has been trying to be too perfect."

• Though he remains in Major League camp, Ty Kelly will open the season as a utility player in Triple-A. Matheny said Kelly will get some time at second, short and in the outfield. He will also occasionally catch side sessions to ready him as an emergency catcher.

"Just be a guy who uses all those gloves he's toting around all the time," Matheny said.

Randal Grichuk (fever) was sent home shortly after reporting on Tuesday. He had learned a day earlier that he has a place on the Opening Day roster.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB and like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.