ST. LOUIS -- Carlos Martinez, who was lost from the team's rotation in late September after suffering a right shoulder injury, estimated that he is back to "90 percent" health with the Cardinals a month away from opening Spring Training.
The Cards do not anticipate any limitations being put on Martinez at the start of camp, but they will get a better feel for his recovery this week, as Martinez will start his throwing program on Tuesday. That will happen at the team's spring complex in Jupiter, Fla., where Martinez has spent much of his offseason rehabbing.
"It's getting better," Martinez said, choosing to answer questions in English at Monday's Winter Warm-Up event. "I feel so good, and I will be ready for the season."
Martinez parlayed a chance to open the 2015 season as a starter into an All-Star season in which he threw a career-most 179 2/3 innings. The Cardinals later acknowledged that workload could have contributed to the Grade 2 shoulder strain that knocked Martinez out of his Sept. 25 start after just six pitches.
He hasn't returned to the mound since.
"You know, it was really hard because I wasn't able to compete in the playoffs and to help the Cardinals," Martinez said. "It was really hard for me."
As long as his shoulder cooperates this year, however, Martinez should be cleared to push toward 200 innings, a benchmark he has noted is one of his goals.
As for his continuing to learn English, it remains an intentional work-in-progress. Martinez said he tries to learn a few new words each day so that he can better communicate among his teammates. In past seasons, Martinez has almost always sought an interpreter when conducting media interviews.
• Right-hander Mike Leake, participating in his first Cardinals Winter Warm-Up event, joked that he hopes to "teach Adam [Wainwright] a few things about hitting" now that the two are teammates. Leake is a career .212 hitter who has notched 77 hits and 16 doubles since 2010. Wainwright has a .198 lifetime average.
• Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa said he will return to St. Louis for the April 11 home opener. The Cardinals annually honor their Hall of Famers on that day, inviting each to wear special red jackets and parade around the field. La Russa was in town over this holiday weekend as part of a 10th anniversary celebration of the 2006 World Series championship club.
• After making a league-high 81 appearances in 2016, lefty Kevin Siegrist said he began his throwing program later this offseason than last. Siegrist got an early start prior to last season mostly because of the uncertainty that followed a 2014 left arm injury. That was not necessary this winter.
"I made sure to take enough time off before I started getting back into it, but every offseason you start feeling the itch to get back into it," Siegrist said on Monday. "This year, I can pretty much work on more of my pitches and refine those. So it's coming along."
• New Cardinals infielder Jedd Gyorko said he will wear No. 3. That number was most recently used by Bill Mueller, the team's assistant hitting coach. The Cardinals acquired Gyorko in a December trade with San Diego.
• Closer Trevor Rosenthal, who agreed to a $5.6 million contract last week, said his representation never engaged in multiyear talks with the club during the arbitration process.
"I don't know what they're thinking, what we're thinking," said Rosenthal, a first-time arbitration-eligible player. "Going through the arbitration process was pretty good, smooth. I'm happy with how it ended up."