PITTSBURGH -- The path to Pittsburgh, where Jose Martinez put on a big league uniform for the first time on Tuesday, spanned 10 years, four organizations, 3,242 at-bats and many moments of wondering if his chance would ever come. Finally, it has.
Martinez, 28, was among a trio of Minor Leaguers the Cardinals summoned on Tuesday to mark their final wave of September callups. Unlike Martinez, the other two, Mike Mayers and Sam Tuivailala, had been here before.
Martinez grounded out to third as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning of Tuesday's 9-7 win over the Pirates at PNC Park.
"It's been unbelievable," Martinez said of reaching his big league dream. "Every player wants to be here. Every player wants to be successful in the Minor Leagues to get to the next level. It took me a while, a lot of stops that I had in my career. But I never quit. I always stayed positive. And the most important thing is I got to an organization that finally gave me a chance."
Martinez joined the Cardinals' organization in late May after the Royals sent him across the state for cash considerations. Their willingness to let him go seemed a bit surprising given the success Martinez had enjoyed since signing a Minor League deal with the Royals in January 2015.
Martinez played his way into a starting job with Triple-A Omaha that season and captured the Pacific Coast League batting crown with a slash line of .384/.461/.563 in 98 games. Martinez thought the production would earn him a place among the Royals' September callups. It never happened.
"I think that put me in a better position for my career," Martinez said. "It was a hard time that last month when I didn't get the notice. … But that got me to this position."
Martinez was batting .298/.356/.433 through 37 Triple-A games this season when the Royals dealt him away. Martinez maintained that production with Triple-A Memphis and caught the Cardinals' eye along the way.
The organization considered him for a callup multiple times this season before finally pulling the trigger this week. In Martinez, manager Mike Matheny has a backup corner outfielder, first baseman and bat off the bench.
"It's something, I know, that may mean more to [him], this first day, because there were probably some times when he doubted whether he would be here," Matheny said. "That's a great story of [perseverance]. It's nice, sometimes, to get a new chance in a different environment. He's making the most of it. He's having a great year."
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.